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Alabama Wages War Against the Perfect Weed 360

pickens writes "Dan Berry writes in the NY Times that the State of Alabama is spending millions of dollars in federal stimulus money to combat Cogongrass, a.k.a. the perfect weed, the killer weed, and the weed from another continent. A weed that 'evokes those old science-fiction movies in which clueless citizens ignore reports of an alien invasion.' Cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica) is considered one of the 10 worst weeds in the world. 'It can take over fields and forests, ruining crops, destroying native plants, upsetting the ecosystem,' writes Berry. 'It is very difficult to kill. It burns extremely hot. And its serrated leaves and grainy composition mean that animals with even the most indiscriminate palates — goats, for example — say no thanks.' Alabama's overall strategy is to draw a line across the state at Highway 80 and eradicate everything north of it; then, in phases, to try to control it to the south. But the weed is so resilient that you can't kill it with one application of herbicide, you have to return several months later and do it again. 'People think this is just a grass,' says forester Stephen Pecot. 'They don't understand that cogongrass can replace an entire ecosystem.' Left unchecked, Pecot says 'it could spread all the way to Michigan.'"

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