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Native or Noxious?

As spring begins landowners in the Mission Valley and surrounding counties will soon be noticing tiny, white bunches of flowers covering the landscape. More than likely these will not be the beloved native wildflowers that we all love to see but rather a very invasive noxious weed known as Hoary cress or commonly referred to as Whitetop. This particular plant has the ability to out compete native grasses and forbs for moisture and nutrients which enables it to quickly become a monoculture. Whitetop is a perennial plant that spreads by both seed and root rhizomes. The success of this invader is due mostly in part to its high seed production rate and its ability to adapt to almost any soil condition and site. New infestations can be eradicated with persistence but older infestations will need to have long term management approach in place to control and suppress the problem. This plant can affect all landowners since it knows no boundaries. Ag producers see a reduction in grazing and haying capability while residential and non-ag users can see a reduction in property values. Early detection and treatment is the key to success.

Whitetop Facts

  • 1,200 – 4,800 seed per mature plant

  • Seed germination rate of around 85%

  • Seeds are viable for up to 6 years

  • Deep rooted perennial with rhizomes

  • Average height 1-2 feet

  • Heart shaped seed pods

  • Early maturing plant- typically flowers in early May

Helpful Tips

  • Utilize only certified noxious weed free forage, topsoil and gravel ( you don’t want someone else’s problems)

  • Become familiar with your property and seek advice if you notice a new type of plant community ( better to be safe than sorry)

  • Limit the amount of soil disturbance and revegetate disturbed soil with noxious weed free seed

Takeaway message

  • Diligence, Early Detection and Rapid Response is the key

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