Weed is pesky

To the Journal editor:

On Nov. 29, The Mining Journal printed a column by Lee Reich extolling the virtues of the autumn olive shrub.

This plant, Elaeagnus umbellata, is recognized as an invasive species that is wreaking havoc on the northern temperate climate zones in the United States.

Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, but when a syndicated columnist writes an article with an air of authority, there should be sufficient background research done to ensure that the fallout will not have detrimental effects on people and property.

One need only to look as far as lower Michigan to see how badly this species has damaged farm land and habitat for whitetail deer as well as many other plants and animals.

Having lived in northern Mecosta County, I can personally attest to how prolific this plant is. It canopies quickly and chokes out nearly everything else.

It alters the soil to the point that little else which is native can grow. Birds come to rely on the berries in the late fall and spread their seed-filled droppings so that the shrubs proliferate like wildfire.

Entire fields are completely consumed within three to five years, making the tag alder swamps of the boreal forest look tame in comparison.

These shrubs are virtually impossible to eradicate from your property. Within just a few years of failing to actively combat the encroachment, a thorn-infested jungle that is hard to describe to anyone who has not personally experienced it, will ensue.

From the time this shrub gains a foothold, whether being seeded from a nearby stand or from being intentionally planted, perpetual vigilance is the order of the day to keep it from spreading.

The thorny plants must be uprooted by mechanical means since cutting only causes them to sucker up twice as thick as before.

Treating with high powered herbicides such as Roundup and Garlon 4 only have limited success, as there are always two or more sprouts which get overlooked.

Any landowner who wants to maintain his or her property for agriculture, hunting purposes or timber would be well advised to avoid subjecting the land to this menace.

For more information concerning this issue, please refer to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website and inform yourself of the dangers.

Timothy Presley