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MoIP green and tan logo that reads, Missouri Native Plant Council
MoIP Vision: Missouri is committed to reducing the impact of invasive plants through early detection and control.
MoIP Mission: To benefit Missouri, MoIP advances efforts to reduce the impact of invasive plants.

Summer 2023

Welcome to the second issue of State of Invasives—the quarterly enewsletter of the Missouri Invasive Plant Council (MoIP). Thank you for subscribing.

Summer is upon us, and significant portions of the state are experiencing abnormal to severe drought conditions. Many plants undergo "reprogramming" during dry spells, which means that herbicide applied to invasive plant foliage may not be spread through plant tissues as effectively as in non-drought conditions. While foliage spray can still be effective in droughts, several applications may be necessary. Cut stump treatment, however, is an alternative for many woody species. Dry, hard ground makes pulling plants in small areas difficult or impossible. Spot-treating with herbicide, or cutting and disposing of flowers or seed heads before seeds shatter, will reduce future infestations via seed. Scroll below for ID and treatment information for several species to treat in summer. And, if you missed it in May, you can watch a recording of a webinar presented by MoIP Council Member Valarie Kurre on invasive plant ID and control here.

Many thanks to all who submitted nominations for MoIP's 2023 Invasive Plant Action Awards. The MoIP Awards Committee is in the process of selecting awardees, with award recipients to be announced later this summer.

We hope you find the information in this issue useful:

—MoDOT launches statewide invasive plant control

—MoIP Receives $100,000 Richard King Mellon Foundation Grant

—MoIP at Missouri State Fair, Missouri Municipal League Conference, and Missouri Association of Counties Conference in 2023

—MoIP’s Cease-the-Sale Idea: Survey Results in Process

—Missourians Making a Difference: Interview with Angela Sokolowski

—Invasives to treat in summer: sericea lespedeza, spotted knapweed, burning bush, and Johnson grass

Thank you for your interest in taking action to control invasive plants!

Carol Davit, MoIP Chair

Matt Arndt, MoIP Vice Chair

Pictured above are several members of the MoIP Council and of the MoDOT Southeast District Strike Team at the July 18, 2023 MoIP Council meeting, hosted by Hamilton's Native Outpost near Houston, Missouri. Photo by Hamilton's Native Outpost.

MoDOT Launches Statewide Invasive Plant Control

The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and Missouri Prairie Foundation (MPF) have joined forces to control invasive plants along the state roadways overseen by MoDOT.

“This partnership is important as some of the treated acres on MoDOT right of way are located adjacent to land managed by MDC, MPF, and many citizens, businesses, and communities across Missouri,” said Natalie Roark, MoDOT state maintenance director. “Gaining control of invasive species benefits both departments, MPF, and the entire state.”

Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV) spraying units have been a part of MoDOT’s herbicide application operations in some test regions in recent years. This spring, MoDOT is taking the new UTV spraying operation statewide to strategically target specific harmful vegetation while limiting collateral impact to desirable roadside vegetation. The new partnership includes funding, training, and shared resources between the three organizations to support MoDOT’s crews applying the treatments.

Support vehicles will be working behind the UTVs to provide materials and a water

source as well as back-up safety to the spraying crews. Typically, spraying operations should have little impact on traffic flow on state roadways as the work is done from the shoulder and side slopes of the roadside. Motorists are urged to use caution and slow down if they see an invasive species spraying operation at work.

If citizens have concerns, questions, or comments about invasive plants along MoDOT rights of way, they can call 1-888-ASK-MODOT (1 (888) 275-6636) or use the online form at

Photo of one of 18 trailers being used statewide to transport equipment for the targeted invasive plant control efforts launched this year. Photo by Julie Norris.

MoIP Awarded Richard King Mellon Foundation Grant

In May, the Missouri Prairie Foundation, which administers MoIP, received a $100,000 grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation to increase invasive plant education and outreach, to conduct invasive plant surveys in the Ozark Highlands and southeastern Missouri, and to support MoIP project coordination, through October 2024. The overall goals of the grant project are to increase knowledge of invasive plants in key areas of the state, inspire and measure invasive plant action by citizens, and ensure effective MoIP Council activity and governance.

Some of the many increased outreach efforts the grant will support are increased distribution of MoIP materials, trainings for citizens and professionals on invasive plant ID and control, use of EDDMAPs, video productions on controlling invasives, and a presence at various conferences/tradeshows to reach municipal professionals, planners, and other new audiences.

Previous to the award, the sole funding for MoIP, used to cover expenses for contract coordination, was provided by the Missouri Prairie Foundation's Grow Native! budget. MoIP is extremely grateful to the Richard King Mellon Foundation for this funding.

MoIP at Missouri State Fair & Fall Conferences

As in past years, MoIP will have a presence at Invasive Species Day at the Missouri State Fair, this year on August 11. Stop by and say hello at our booth, where we will share information on invasive plant ID and control as well as resources for landscaping with native plants.

In an effort to reach new audiences and develop collaborations with Missouri communities, MoIP will exhibit at the Missouri Municipal League Conference September 10-13, 2023 in Kansas City and at the Missouri Association of Counties Conference November 18-21 in Osage Beach. At both events, MoIP will reach hundreds of professionals working for municipalities and counties statewide, emphasizing the urgent need for early detection and control of invasive plants, with resources to share with them.

In 2022, Missouri Prairie Foundation Board Member Jane Haslag, in blue, volunteered at the State Fair, sharing invasive and native plant information with fairgoers, along with MPF Board President David Young. Photo by David Young.

Feedback Received on MoIP’s Cease-the-Sale Idea

To help prevent further invasive plant challenges on the landscape, MoIP has put forth the idea of ceasing the sale of some invasive plants via state legislation that would ban their sale, propagation, and intentional distribution.

In late 2020 and early 2021, MoIP invited input on this idea from more than 90 groups in the fields of agriculture, horticulture, and conservation, and from the input received—from 23 of those 90+ groups—MoIP developed a list of plant species for which there was strong organizational support for ceasing their sale, a list for which there was strong organizational opposition for ceasing their sale, and a third list needing additional input.

In April, MoIP invited members of the 90+ groups, as well as any member of the public, to provide input on this third list. A total of 84 people responded by the extended deadline of June 15. These individuals learned about the opportunity to provide input through conservation, horticulture, agriculture, and other groups and self-identified as horticulturists, farmers, biologists, citizens, outdoors people, planners, and others. MoIP Vice Chair Matt Arndt is in the process of analyzing survey data received. Watch for final results in the fall issue of State of Invasives and at the

MoIP Cease the Sale webpage.

Missourians Making a Difference: Interview with Angela Sokolowski

Throughout Missouri there are many individuals making significant progress in the early detection and control of invasive plants. MoIP is pleased to highlight their work! 

Angela Sokolowski, Invasive Species Coordinator, Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), and MoIP Council member, took time out of her busy schedule to describe her work. Enjoy!

—Carol Davit, MoIP Chair

How long have you been in this position with MDC? What is your professional background?

I started in this position in May 2022. My background is primarily in terrestrial plants, including botanical surveys, invasive plant control, and wildland/prescribed fire. I have a B.S. degree in Animal Ecology from Iowa State University. During college I worked at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa, where I carried out native plant propagation, invasive plant control, and prescribed fire on reconstructed prairie. After college, I enjoyed working all over the country for several years as a seasonal employee with the National Park Service. I worked summers on fire effects crews, monitoring native vegetation in prescribed burn units, and winters on the Lake Mead Exotic Plant Management Team, serving National Parks in the Desert Southwest. I came to Missouri in 2009 to work at Ozark National Scenic Riverways as part of the Fire Effects Crew. Most recently, I worked for several years on the Mark Twain National Forest as the Zone 3 Plant Specialist, focused on invasive plant management planning and implementation. 

Please give us a summary of the invasive species work you coordinate for MDC.

My position involves state-wide coordination for all invasive species: terrestrial and aquatic plants, animals, and insects. My coordination work is at the broader organizational level, focusing on strategies, connections, and information sharing, while the operational day-to-day invasive species management activities are coordinated by MDC staff at the regional and district levels. My work includes providing guidance on invasives-related strategy and policy within MDC, coordinating with our species and habitat specialists, working with partnerships, and assisting with communication staff within the agency and for the public. 

How is MDC managing invasive species on its lands?

MDC’s land managers are managing invasives across the state using a variety of tools, techniques, and approaches. Our regional resources staff and technicians treat invasives mechanically and chemically in a wide variety of habitat types across our conservation areas. For some projects, our managers have contracted specialized equipment including aquatic vegetation harvesters, as well as helicopters and drones for aerial spraying of bush honeysuckle. We employ several specialized crews including the Central Region’s Invasive Plant Crew, which treats terrestrial plants in conservation areas, and the Southwest Region’s Hydrilla Crew is dedicated to surveying and treating infestations of the aquatic invasive plant hydrilla in public and private water bodies. 

Read more

Invasives to Treat in Summer

Not all invasive plants are most effectively treated at the same time of year. Here, we highlight several species to treat in summer. You can find treatment guidelines for many invasive plants at Note: Treatment methods may differ considerably if invasives are found in otherwise intact, highly biologically diverse areas or in disturbed areas/altered landscapes, and if invasives are found in or near water. When using chemicals to treat invasives, always read label instructions. In addition to the resources linked below, you may also find this table of invasive plant treatment methods for grasslands, from the Missouri Prairie Foundation, helpful.

Johnson grass (Sorghum halepense) is a coarse, perennial grass with stout rhizomes that reach 7 feet tall. It grows in dense clumps or nearly solid stands. Johnson grass was introduced into the United States as a forage crop, but became problematic not only to natural communities but also to agriculture. It invades riverbank communities and disturbed sites, particularly fallow fields and wooded edges, as well as native grasslands, where it crowds out native species. Johnson grass is on the Missouri Noxious Weed List.

Johnson grass has a prominent white leaf mid-vein, a rounded stem base, and is virtually hairless.

Dense patches can be controlled by spraying the foliage with 2% glyphosate (Roundup). Best results are obtained when glyphosate is applied to plants that are 18 inches tall to early flowering stage. Alternately, sulfosulfuon (Outrider), at a rate of 1 oz per 100 gallons of water, can be applied via foliar spray before flower stalks set seed. Missouri Department of Conservation Johnson Grass Fact Sheet.

Sericea lespedeza (Lespedeza cuneata) is a perennial legume with herbaceous to somewhat woody stems, growing 3 to 6 feet tall, with many erect, leafy branches. Flowers are ¼ to ⅜ inch long and in clusters, the petals cream colored with purple or pink markings. Blooms July–October. Its myriads of seeds are borne in small oval pods that are up to ⅛ inch wide.

Leaves are green to ashy green with densely flattened hairs, compound with 3 leaflets each ¼ to 1 inch long.

Sericea lespedeza seed remains viable in the seed bank for many years. Prescribed burning stimulates sericea seed to sprout, and following up with a chemical treatment may speed up ridding soil of the seed. The most commonly used chemicals for treatment are a mixture of triclopyr and fluroxypyr (PastureGard) or triclopyr (Remedy) once plants are at least 12 inches tall. Later in the growing season, when plants are flowering until seed set, use metsulfuron (e.g., Ally, Escort, Cimarron).


Labeled use rates for the chemicals below can change as the growing season progresses, but are commonly applied at the following rates with surfactant added at .25-.5% solution: PastureGard - Spot spray at .5 oz per gallon of water or broadcast spray at .75 pints per acre / Remedy Ultra - Spot spray at 1.25 oz per gallon of water or broadcast spray at 1-2 pints per acre / Escort XP - Spot spray at 1 oz per 100 gallons of water or broadcast spray at .5-1 oz per acre. Always read and follow chemical labels.

Read more in this Missouri Department of Conservation Sericea Lespedeza Fact Sheet. Note: Do not confuse sericea lespedeza with native slender lespedeza (Lespedeza virginiana), which does not have the distinct “fishbone-like” leaf venation pattern that sericea lespedeza has. Also, the native has light to dark pink flowers (not cream-colored petals with purplish markings, that sericea has, as shown in the inset photo above).

Spotted knapweed (Centaurea stoebe subsp. micranthos) is a tap-rooted, short-lived perennial. A single plant can have as few as one stem or as many as 20. By the end of the first year, a knapweed plant is a small basal rosette. It usually bolts in the second year, producing branched stems up to 4 feet tall. The plant gets its name from the spotted bracts immediately below the numerous, pink flowers. Its flowers resemble thistle flowers and bloom in June and July.

Spotted knapweed can produce as many as 1,000 seeds per plant. The seeds—with small, attached "parachutes"—are the main form of dispersal and can be as abundant as 5,000 seeds per square foot. They can remain viable for at least eight years. Seeds can be spread on mowing equipment and in infested hay, seed, and gravel. Spotted knapweed is on the Missouri Noxious Weed List.

The recommended chemical control is an herbicide containing aminopyralid, such as Milestone. Herbicide treatments are most effective on plants in the rosette or the bolting stage (before they flower), but treatment can be done before flowers produce seed. Applying 2,4-D to rosettes in the fall or early spring also is effective.

Bioagent insects are being used in Missouri and many other states to control large stands of spotted knapweed. The most effective insects include a combination of seedhead (Larinus minutus) and root-boring (Cyphocleonus achates) weevils. These insects have been approved by USDA/APHIS, and survive only as long as knapweed is present. Read more in this Missouri Department of Conservation Spotted Knapweed Fact Sheet.

Burning bush (Euonymus alatus) is a deciduous shrub growing to 20 ft. Two to four corky ridges often form along the length of young stems, though they may not appear in shaded areas or closed canopies.

The opposite, dark green leaves are < 2 in. long, smooth, rounded and taper at the tips. The leaves turn a bright crimson to purplish color in the fall.

The flowers have four petals and are inconspicuous, greenish yellow. Flowers develop from late April to June and lay flat against the leaves.

The fruit of reddish capsules split to reveal orange fleshy seeds from September through October.

Burning bush can invade not only forest edges, old fields, and roadsides, but also undisturbed wooded habitats. Birds and other wildlife eat and disperse the fruit. Once established, it can form dense thickets, displacing native vegetation.

Seedlings and small plants can easily be hand-pulled from moist soil. Roots must be removed to prevent regrowth.

Foliar application of herbicide is effective during the growing season when the plants are in full leaf, but may cause off-target damage to any nearby desirable plants. Cut stump, stem injection or basal bark herbicide treatments are effective and can be applied at any time of the year other than early spring.

State of Invasives aims to:

Provide useful information to you/the leaders of your organization, agency, or business to help you recognize and control invasive plants and reduce their negative impacts, introduce you to our work, explain the challenges of invasive plants, and make the case for bold action and how this will benefit Missouri and Missourians. 

Share talking points that you can use when communicating about invasive plant detection and control within your agency, business, or organization, and to your customers or stakeholders. 

• Empower you and your audiences to recognize invasive plants and take action—around your office building, behind your parking lot, on your back 40, right of way, back yard, around your crop field, or on any other land you or your group owns or manages.

We hope the information in this enewsletter is helpful, and we’d like to hear from you. What questions or ideas do you have? Would you like to share the invasive plant action you or your organization or business are taking with us? If so, contact us at [email protected].

In 2015, Grow Native!, the native plant education and marketing program of the Missouri Prairie Foundation, spearheaded the formation of MoIP—a multi-agency, multi-industry networking and advocacy group to bolster statewide efforts to identify and control the invasive plant species that severely impact several sectors of the Missouri economy and native biodiversity. The purpose of MoIP—working as a united, supportive front—is to review, discuss, and recommend educational and regulatory action related to managing known and potential non-­native invasive plants. Representatives from the fields of conservation, agriculture, botanical science, ecological restoration, transportation, horticulture, landscape services and design, and forestry make up the council membership, volunteering their time at quarterly meetings and small work groups. MoIP associates help disseminate MoIP information to various groups. Emily Render works on contract to coordinate MoIP activities.

Last year, MoIP completed a framework for our work for the next five years—the MoIP Strategic Plan for 2022-2026 guides MoIP's current work.

Learn more about MoIP and mind many invasive plant ID and control resources at

Newsletter content ownership: Missouri Prairie Foundation.

You are receiving this message because you a subscriber to this enewsletter, which provide news and information about invasives in Missouri and the actions the Missouri Invasive Plant Council and our partners around the state are taking to control and reduce the impact of invasive plants. You can play an important role in statewide efforts to control invasive plants by reading, learning, and sharing the information within this enewsletter with others who deal with vegetation management.

E-mail us at [email protected], call us at 1-888-843-6739, or visit us at If you do not wish to receive these periodic messages, please unsubscribe below.


Carol Davit

MoIP Chair & Missouri Prairie Foundation Executive Director

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