FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. (WBOY) — Another invasive plant from Asia has been confirmed in West Virginia’s only national park.
The official Facebook page for the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve shared Wednesday morning that two Achyranthes japonica or chaff flower plants were confirmed in the Brooklyn Campground along the New River in August.
According to the post, chaff flower was first confirmed in the U.S. in Kentucky during the 1980s and is only in a few places in West Virginia. “And we want to keep it that way!” said the post. Chaff flower plants can get up to six feet tall and kill native plants in their area by shading them out. Generally, they are found along creek and river beds and in floodplains.
The New River Gorge National Park said that it can be easy to spread accidentally because its “brackets” stick to cloth and fur. Although the plant it perennial and is only in growing season from April to September, seeds can be spread year-round.
“Once established, chaff flower can be very hard to control, making early detection a priority for land managers.”
Those who want to help prevent the spread can 1) Learn how to identify chaff flower and report if they see it, and 2) Remove any seeds or plants from your clothes, pets, backpacks and tents before and after a hike or camping trip.
The post said that people can learn to identify Achyranthes japonica by its:
- Leaves: Opposite each other on the stems, oval in shape with a pointed tip and have leaf veins arcing towards the tip, similar to a dogwood leaf, and smooth leaf edges
- Flowers: In July and August, small green flowers on a stalk that looks like a bottlebrush
- Fruits: In August and later, lying flat against the stalk, two stiff bracts that catch on fabric and animal fur
“With us all working together, we can slow the spread of chaff flower and other invasive species to keep our park ecosystems safe and healthy!” New River Gorge National Park said.
Sightings of the plant can be reported using iNaturalist.