Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group to Host 2022 Virtual Symposium: Part

The Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group (CIPWG) hosted its 2022 Virtual Symposium on November 3, on Strategies for Managing Invasive Plants: Assess, Remove, Replace, and Restore.

The day-long webcast included multiple sessions covering topics related to invasive terrestrial and aquatic plants. CIPWG Co-Chairs Emmett Varricchio, Victoria Wallace and Rose Hiskes welcomed all in attendance, as well as their planning committee members and event sponsors.

Varricchio explained that attendees could submit their questions during the webcast for speakers to answer in the Q&A portion at the end of each session.

keynote speaker

Professor Bernd Blossey from Cornell University was the keynote speaker at the virtual symposium with a presentation entitled “Invasive Plant Management: What We Know, What We Don’t Know, and What We Need to Know”.

He shared how “nature is resilient” and that species evolve/adapt over time.

“The success of conservation and management should be measured over decades and centuries, not days, weeks or months,” explains Blossey’s slide.

What we don’t know, he said, is understanding and improving the ecosystem’s ability to self-renew. To do this, global, regional and local threats must be identified and measures taken.

Because what we need to know when gathering information for invasive plant management is the impact of invasive species on native species, the impact of management to assess long-term outcomes and identify driving factors.

Methods Blossey nurtured to “create thriving forests” were deer management, fencing off land to protect it, and restoring areas by planting seedlings.

He went on to stress that Connecticut has a “big problem” with water chestnuts, Japanese knotwood should not be bred or distributed, and that he does not support the Garlic Mustard Challenge, which encourages citizens to get rid of garlic mustard.

“Don’t pull garlic mustard,” Blossey pointed out.

online tools

dr Bryan Connolly, assistant professor and botanist at Eastern Connecticut State University, opened the morning session of the virtual symposium with his presentation, “Online Tools and Apps for Identifying and Reporting Invasive Plants.”

Connolly has visited Newtown on several occasions in recent years to assist the Conservation Commission with their High Meadow Project and assessments.

During his presentation, Connolly focused on four different apps that are helpful for professionals like himself and for ordinary people who want to learn more about invasive plants.

He walked step-by-step through using Native Plant Trust’s Go Botany,; The Consortium of Northeastern Herbaria and Torey Herbarium,,; EDDMaps,; and iNaturalist,

Go Botany “is a really good place to start,” says Connolly. He personally uses it for information about rare plants. One of the identifiers he finds helpful is that it also shows what the invasive plant can often be confused with.

Connolly called The Consortium of Northeastern Herbaria and Torey Herbarium an “amazing resource” because it contains all specimens and herbaria in one database. It’s a good resource for historical data and access to high-resolution scans.

EDDMaps shows local soil populations from users contributing expert-verified data.

“You can report your sightings,” Connolly said, adding that it was easy to do.

He lists that its best features are its warnings, negative reports, projects, ecological data, and population size.

The last resource Connolly went through was iNaturalist, which he cited as one of his favorites. It features a point-and-shoot camera detection system that instantly identifies plants. People can also contribute their data.

He stated that iNaturalist is very versatile, easy to use, fast and comes with a huge amount of data.

People can email Connolly at [email protected] if they have any questions.

Be sure to secure a copy The Newtown Bee‘s Friday, November 25 print edition for Part Two of the 2022 CIPWG Symposium on Virtual Invasive Plants.

For more information about CIPWG and symposium speaker access handouts, visit

Reporter Alissa Silber can be reached at [email protected]

Clockwise from left, Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group co-chairs Emmett Varricchio, Rose Hiskes and Victoria Wallace welcome everyone at the start of the all-day virtual symposium on invasive plants on November 3.

Bernd Blossey, a Cornell University professor and keynote speaker at the symposium (pictured right), encourages people to grow and plant native plants — like marsh milkweed, meadowsweet, and sensitive fern — and then revisit them to assess their survival, growth, and monitor their reproduction.

dr Bryan Connolly, pictured above right, of Eastern Connecticut State University, explains how people can use the Native Plant Trust’s Go Botany online tool during his morning session at the Virtual Invasive Plants Symposium.