Beginning July 1, 2001, the state of Iowa will prohibit the importation, sale, and distribution of purple loosestrife and its seeds. Iowa joins 27 other states that have prohibited purple loosestrife. Dense infestations of purple loosestrife form a monoculture crowding out native plants that are used by wildlife for food and nesting habitat. Purple loosestrife can invade ditches, stream banks, lakes, and reservoirs. Boat ramps and shorelines may become overgrown with purple loosestrife. This can spoil recreational boating and fishing opportunities.
Senate File 84 , prohibiting the sale and distribution of purple loosestrife, was passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Vilsack. Any person violating this act is subject to a fine not exceeding one hundred dollars. Both Lythrum salicaria and Lythrum virgatum are prohibited. Cultivars of Lythrum virgatum (such as 'Morden's Pink' and 'Morden's Gleam') that were once thought to be sterile or nonaggressive are also included. Studies at the University of Minnesota and the University of Manitoba have shown that cultivars may not always remain sterile, especially in a natural environment.
This article originally appeared in the June 22, 2001 issue, p. 77.