Invasive plant species discovered in Burlington

Published: Jul. 17, 2023 at 4:14 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - An invasive plant species called pale swallow-wort has been discovered in Vermont for the first time. It was found in a Burlington neighborhood on Prospect Street.

Experts say it is not harmful to humans but it can be a danger to other animals like caterpillars.

The leaves are dark green and the flowers are a light pink to purple shade.

The plant does contain latex which can give people a rash, so it is recommended to wear long clothes.

Experts say the summer is a good time to catch these plants.

“It won’t make seed pods and so that prevents this generation from spreading and gives us time to deal with a bigger plant in the next year or so,” said Lina Swislocki, the assistant coordinator of the Invasive Plant Program at the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation.

Pale swallow-wort can harm soil, grass and spread so it can be harmful to the environment. The chemicals that are in pale swallow-wort can prevent other plants from growing.

“Another name for it is dog-strangling vine because it does grow in these really thick, dense patches like that,” Swislocki said.

While the Vermont Agency of Agriculture says no dogs will ever be harmed by the plant, it will crowd out many indigenous species, including milkweed. It is also toxic to monarch butterflies.

We shot a PSA this morning alerting folks in Burlington near Prospect Street to the recent discovery of a new invasive...

Posted by Vermont Agency of Agriculture on Monday, July 17, 2023

Some Burlington residents say they have never heard of this plant before and now they are taking all necessary precautions.

Hannah Crowley is a mother to young kids and says she now has to double-check her garden.

“I have a 3-and-a-half-year-old and she loves playing in my garden, so I don’t know what she is allergic to right now, so I will definitely look. I did see some things that I didn’t recognize coming up the other day, so I think it’s worth checking,” Crowley said.

Experts say it is not as dangerous as other invasive species.

“So we’re trying to get the word out to people because it doesn’t seem like it’s the same level of infestation like knotweed or bittersweet things that are not possible to control,” said Emilie Inoue of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture.

Officials are not aware of how the species came to Burlington.

Experts say if see this plant in your backyard or surrounding neighborhoods, to put on some gloves, cut it and then throw it away.

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