Mission: Pepperweed

Photo by Leslie Mehrhoff, UConn
Photo by Wikimedia user Malte
Photo by US Fish and Wildlife Service via Flickr

Research Question

Where is pepperweed spreading in Maine? What impacts is it having?

You’re invited

Scientists, like Kate O’Brien at the Fish and Wildlife Service, are concerned about the spread of the invasive broadleaved pepperweed (L. latifolium). Broadleaved pepper weed is native to Europe where it grows near high tide zones of salt marshes. In New England, it is found in similar types of habitat like coastal marshes and salty roadsides. Once established it forms dense, tall stands and spreads either by seeds or by large root systems.

Pepperweed is found in other parts of New England, but it has only recently been spotted in Maine. Without extra help, scientists will not be able to keep track of all the places pepperweed is spreading to. They need your help!

Mission steps

  1. Print the species card for pepperweed and a upland survey datasheet.
  2. Go into the field and collect data to make your claim of FOUND or NOT FOUND
  3. If you find pepperweed, take note of how many you see or how much of your area is covered. Be careful not to help it spread to new places!
  4. If you don’t find pepperweed, what other species of plants do you see? What is the habitat like?
  5. Post your data!

Why this mission matters

Communities out West and in other parts of New England have problems with invasive pepperweed. It is just beginning to be found in Maine. We don’t know yet if it will spread as rapidly as it has elsewhere, or be as damaging. Staying on the lookout and carefully documenting any finds will be critical to understanding its impacts in Maine.

By helping scientists collect this data, we all have a chance to reduce the problems caused by this invasive plant!


are they in Maine