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Oakdale Rep. JoAnn Ward Working to Battle Invasive Species

Washington County is the “hotspot” for Grecian foxglove, she said.

Rep. JoAnn Ward is working on a bill that would allow the Department of Natural Resources to engage in the eradication of Grecian foxglove.

Washington County, Ward said, is the “hotspot” for the invasive species, which has been spotted in Afton State Park and farms in the area.

“It’s already in a lot of people’s property," said Ward, a DFLer in her first term as the House District 53A representative, representing both Oakdale and Woodbury. 

Native to central and southern Europe, Grecian foxglove is poisonous to humans, wildlife and livestock, according to the state Department of Agriculture.

“In Minnesota, it is invasive and displaces desirable vegetation,” according to a webpage on the plant on the Department of Agriculture’s website.

One issue is that the only thing that can kill Grecian foxglove is a product not available to the public, which means state officials would have to handle eradication efforts, Ward said.

“If somebody wanted to take care of it, they really couldn’t,” she said.

Because Grecian foxglove is a perennial, it would likely be a multi-year project from the DNR, Ward said.

Details from the DNR website

Grecian Foxglove

Appearance: Biennial herbaceous plant; first year rosette; second year single to multiple coarse erect stems 2- 5' high.

Leaves: First year rosette leaves spear-shaped and dark green, second year alternate along stem.

Flowers: Elongated flower cluster, conspicuous cream colored, tubular flowers, with purplish-brown veins, blooming in June.

Seeds: In pods with small hooks which attach easily to fur and clothes.

Caution: Wear long sleeves and gloves to avoid prolonged skin contact.

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