Mapping the purple menace: spatiotemporal distribution of purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) along roadsides in northern New York State.
Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria L.) is an invasive, herbaceous plant, frequently found in wetlands, creating monoculture stands, resulting in intensive management strategies in central New York, Ontario, and Quebec. The goal of this study was to identify the extent of infestations and to investigate factors that promote the spread of purple loosestrife. We attempted to answer several questions regarding level of infestation, connection to mowing, and influence of culverts. During flowering season in July and August, 2017-2019, we mapped infestations along 150 km (93 miles) of state highway between the Adirondack Park and the St. Lawrence River using the ESRI Collector app. The results of our preliminary analysis revealed significant increase in the number of plants (P < 0.001). In addition, a linear correlation analysis demonstrated a higher loosestrife density with an increase in plant species richness and a decrease in the distance to the closest infestation and wetland (P < 0.001 each). We found no statistical evidence that mowing promotes the spread of loosestrife. As expected, there were more individual infestations in highway ditches, but larger and denser infestations in wetlands (P = 0.003 in 2019). Culverts enable purple loosestrife to spread underneath highways and should be managed to prevent spread.