Spring will get here eventually, Michigan. But when it does, your yard may be the host of an invasive weed that has waited 177 years to ruin your well-manicured lawn.

Just like any other state, Michigan has its share of invasive plants that have been introduced over the years. Invasive species in plants differ greatly from invasive animals or insects because they can lay dormant for decades before actually causing problems.

Of course, most invasive species are introduced either by accident or ignorance. The old tale behind kudzu is that it was introduced to feed cattle. Now that pesky vine is everywhere and has completely debilitated entire plots of land. In the case of the ticking time bomb that's beginning to crop up, no one knows how or why it got to the United States, only that it came from Europe.

The plant in question is known as ribwort. Michigan declared ribwort a "noxious" weed and can cause a few problems for people, yards and local ecosystems.

Zeke Marshall via Wikipedia Commons
Zeke Marshall via Wikipedia Commons
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A recent study from Nature Ecology and Evolution reports that some 5,700 invasive plants have a dormancy phase of roughly 40 years. Ribwort was introduced to the U.S. in 1882.

The plant has since begun to sprout and take over native habitats, disrupting local ecosystems. Invasive species like ribwort wait for climates to match their ideal environment and then rapidly expand to wreak havoc. Ribwort is now prevalent in all 50 states, including Michigan.

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"The main impact is outcompeting native plants, so taking over their habitats," study author Mohsen Mesgaran told Newsweek. "Additionally, ribwort may attract pollinators away from native plants, which rely on these pollinators for seed production, potentially reducing their ability to maintain stable populations in the long term."

Ribwort is a problem for humans for more than simply being a nuisance to their yard aesthetics. It can cause hay fever and other respiratory issues in large quantities for those who may be susceptible. Further, it can disrupt feeding patterns for livestock as they won't like to eat it, and eating too much of it can cause digestive issues.

Alexis via Wikipedia Commons
Alexis via Wikipedia Commons
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Tedious lawn care is the best way to deal with ribwort, so long as the weed hasn't flowered. Frequent mowing and pulling of noticed weeds will go a long way in controlling its spread. Click here for more information on how to eradicate this plant from your yard.

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