Salt cedar greedily absorbs water and leaves behind acidic ground that is unfriendly to other plant species.

Salt cedar, an invasive species of tree, has been cited as a possible concern for other plant life that thrives near Devils Lake.

That’s because salt cedar greedily absorbs water and leaves behind acidic ground that is unfriendly to other plant species, according to Ramsey County Extension agent Bill Hodous, who also described the appearance of salt cedar.

“It’s a fern-looking type of tree, and it grows typically around water’s edge,” Hodous said. "The problem is, by spewing all the salt out on the ground, it makes that ground acidic so other plants won’t grow.”

He also described salt cedar as “lime green” with a “pinkish flower on top of it.”

Native to the Middle East, Asia, and parts of Africa, it’s estimated that salt cedar made its first appearance on America’s east coast in the early 1800s. It later thrived in the southwestern part of the country, and now the worry is that the plant could choke off other plant life here.

Hodous said that salt cedar has already been discovered in the region.

“Salt cedar has been found on Hwy. 20 south of town,” he said. “To this point, we have no measures to take care of it.”

He added that the only effective method by which to combat salt cedar has been local application of pesticide.

“There has been some pesticide application with specific plants,” Hodous said. “That has been a pretty good control measure.”

He asks that anyone who sees the plant report it to either the Ramsey County Extension at 701-662-7027 or the Weed Control Board at 701-662-7330.

“We need to make people aware of the plant, and if they identify it, call (us),” Hodous said. “It’s definitely something we don’t want to get started around Devils Lake.”

Palmer amaranth is another invasive species, this one a weed, that is a potential concern for North Dakota, though it has not reportedly been seen here yet.

Amaranth, though edible, is a menace to farmers because it can dominate soybean and other crop fields.

Both Ramsey and Benson County agents will be heading to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Pesticide Application Technology Laboratory, which features both a high-speed and a low-speed wind tunnel, next week.

The university’s high speed tunnel is used to replicate aerial pesticide application conditions, while the low speed tunnel is used for ground-based applications for testing purposes.

According to Hodous, the idea is to study applications that may be effective in battling Palmer amaranth should it invade North Dakota in significant numbers.

“We’re going to spend a day identifying and learning how to control Palmer amaranth,” Hodous said. “We have that moving into the state, so we want to make sure that we stay on top of that.”

Native to the arid landscape of the southwestern part of the country and northern Mexico, Palmer amaranth has been seen in northern Indiana, Ohio, Illinois and as far north as Michigan.