• Jen Haynes

The Mystery of the Rush Skeletonweed

Today we have for you The Mystery of the Rush Skeletonweed. Part of the job of invasive plant management is figuring out how invasive plants are introduced so you can prevent it happening again. Two years ago, during some inventory in the Grand Forks area a single rush skeletonweed plant was found. The nearest plant that we know of is over 100 kms away. The plant was found on a hot, dry hill side. There were no hiking trails nearby. It didn’t look like there were any game trails nearby, but the plant had been fed on by deer. It appears that the deer feeding on the plant may have reduced its spread a little since they ate the seed preventing most wind-borne spread.

Rush skeletonweed, chondrilla juncea, is a perennial. It spreads by seed and horizontal roots. A single plant can produce up to 20,000 seeds. The plant can grow up to 1.3 metres in height. It has yellow flowers and hardly any leaves. It has wiry stems. Rush skeletonweed reduces forage for wildlife and livestock. If it gets into hay fields, it can bind up the machinery. It typically grows in dry grasslands, rangelands, roadsides and generally any dry disturbed area. It is prolific in Southern Washington, but there is not a lot in Southern BC yet.

The single plant we found was treated when found, then last year when we did more inventory, we found 11 new plants that had spread by roots from the original plant. These plants were also treated as we don’t want this aggressive plant spreading in the grasslands. We hiked the grasslands all around the plants we found and didn’t find any other plants. So, the mystery continues as to how the first plant got to the site. We think there may be more somewhere in the Grand Forks area. If you have seen rush skeletonweed in the Boundary we want to know!

For more information on invasive plants you can contact the Boundary Invasive Species Society at 250-446-2232, info@boundaryinvasives.com, Facebook and www.boundaryinvasives.com. The phone number is a cell number so you can text photos of plants that you want identified.