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Connecticut plant scientists warn of new invasive species

Image courtesy Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station

The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station is warning of a new non-native plant found for the first time in Connecticut that could quickly eliminate native vegetation. 

Dr. Jatinder Aulakh, an associate weed scientist with the station, said goldencreeper is extremely aggressive, with large patches twining and climbing on neighboring trees until they cover them completely. 

“By doing so they tend to exclude our natural vegetation from sunlight. That’s how they slowly lead them to their elimination,” Aulakh said. 

Aulakh said the make-up of the plant, with fleshy underground tubers, makes it a serious threat. 

“The potato-like tubers — they are very robust vegetative structures which are not very easily killed with even chemicals. So that makes it very resistant or difficult to eliminate the plant,” Aulakh said.

The plant, which is native to Northeastern China, Korea and Russia, is believed to have been introduced into North America as an ornamental plant. It’s already established itself in New York and Massachusetts.

So far goldencreeper has only been found in the town of Kent, but Connecticut residents are being asked to report any new cases to the station. 

Full details of what to look for and contact information can be found at the station’s website — ct.gov/caes.

An award-winning freelance reporter/host for WSHU, Brian lives in southeastern Connecticut and covers stories for WSHU across the Eastern side of the state.