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Hawkweed Task Force Asks for Help

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Hawkweed Task Force Asks for Help

Montana's noxious weeds are quietly reducing the value of western Montana landscapes. The analogy to a smokeless wildfire is real. This is very descriptive of one of the state's new additions to the noxious weed list: orange and meadow hawkweed (Hieracium spp.). They are sometimes referred to as "Yellow Devil", "King Devil" or "Devil Weed." Eleven species of weedy exotic hawkweeds occur in the US and Canada. Hawkweeds are quick to colonize and readily -dominate forest meadows, pastures, roadsides and even lawns. Their ability to out-compete surrounding vegetation and form single species, monotypic stands is a great cause for concern. In Sanders County the hawkweeds are most prevalent west of Thompson Falls to the Idaho border and up the Bull River.

Hawkweeds reproduce by seed, rhizome (underground root), stolon (aboveground root) and adventitious bud. These traits lend themselves to the competitive advantage this plant holds on most sites. Northeastern Washington, northern Idaho and northwestern Montana are home to the largest infestations in North America. County, state and federal personnel have formed the "Western Montana Hawkweeds Task Force" to spread awareness regarding this species.

Identification: In the vegetative state, hawkweeds appear as low growing rosettes, with many hairy, spatula shaped leaves. Each rosette produces tall (10" - 36") hairy stems. Stems are often bare of leaves from the rosette up. Each stem in turn can produce 5 - 30 flower heads, which are normally a bright orange, or yellow color. Since hawkweeds can reproduce four different ways, they quickly out-compete other vegetation and develop monotypic (single species) stands. In western Montana, orange and meadow hawkweed are currently establishing in many locations. Because hawkweeds often establish in remote forest areas, infestations can go unnoticed for years. Hawkweeds will soon be blooming, which should make identification relatively easy. A tall and bare-stemmed plant with an orange or yellow flower warrants your attention.

Western Montana County, Private, Tribal, State and Federal land-managers have teamed up to combat hawkweed. Western Montana's Hawkweed "Task Force" is a group of concerned weed managers working together to educate, develop an inventory, prevent the spread and manage the new additions to the state's noxious weed list. County weed districts along with State, Tribal and Federal managers are requesting your assistance in locating Hawkweed infestations. An important goal is to locate infestations while they are small and yet manageable. Please contact Sanders County Weed Control @ 826-3487, or Sanders County Extension @ 827-6934 to report locations or obtain further information.


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Author info

John Halpop is an extension agent with Montana State University.

Tagged as:

Montana, hawkweed, devil weed, invasive species, noxious weeds

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