Columbia Parks and Recreation begins removal of invasive species

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COLUMBIA  - The Columbia Parks and Recreation Forestry Division will begin an invasive species project to remove a type of weed from the Forum Nature Area Tuesday.

Crews will begin mowing areas that have an abundance of sericea lespedeza.

Tanner Jones, garden center manager at Helmi's Garden, said the weed is common in urban areas.

"You see it a lot. Especially in areas that have been disturbed with new development, new construction, things like that," Jones said. "Birds will spread the seeds, wind will spread the seeds. You'll see it growing along edges of wooded areas." 

Sericea is an invasive plant that is currently flowering in Columbia parks. It must be mowed prior to going to seed so that its growth is controlled.

"One stem can produce roughly a thousand seeds, so it seeds very heavily," Jones said. "It just spreads so quickly and it takes over areas where other native plants here in Missouri typically occupy." 

The plant thrives when prairie areas are burned, which means the best way of eradicating the invasive plant is through chemical or mowing methods.

"It's important that the parks is taking it out because that plant has not been deemed noxious by the state of Missouri meaning they haven't really put it on that list to really get it removed," Jones said. 

The city encourages park users to be patient with park staff as they work to maintain the city's natural areas though the removal of invasive species.