• Big Hole National Battlefield, Wisdom Montana

    Big Hole

    National Battlefield Montana

Nonnative Species


Spotted knapweed is a noxious weed that is a threat to park biodiversity.

NSP Photo

Invasions of exotic species represent one of the most serious threats to natural ecosystem integrity. Biological invasions are occurring at accelerated rates in nearly every major ecosystem. Invasive nonnative plant species are of concern given their ability to quickly expand into new areas, compete with and exclude native species, and alter ecosystem processes. At Big Hole National Battlefield, invasive plants, most of which are nonnative species, pose one of the greatest threats to natural and cultural resources and have been identified as a high priority management responsibility.

"Weeds" can be defined in many ways. To the average person, the term "weed" refers to:

· A plant growing where it is not wanted,

· A plant out of place,

· Plants that are a nuisance, unsightly,or harmful, and/or

· A plant whose virtues have yet to be discovered.

Although there is truth to all these definitions, these statements minimize the impact of weeds on humans and the environment and disregard some fundamental biological features of weeds that set them apart from most other plants. Weeds are what they are because they have certain characteristics that make them different from other plants.

Citizen scientists identifying plants.

Park staff are making a concerted effort to locate, identify, and treat these weeds with proven Integrated Pest Management procedures.

NPS photo

The following is a list of “weedy characteristics,” many of which are possessed by the worst weeds in the world.

  • Parasitic on crop plants
  • Poisonous
  • Unpalatable/nutritionally poor/taints animal products
  • Alters physical characteristics of products (i.e., wool imperfections, dyes, etc.)
  • Reduces crop value
  • Hosts for diseases and other pests
  • Block waterways
  • Hinders the functioning of farm equipment
  • Affects manmade environments other than agricultural land
  • Socially unacceptable (i.e., marijuana, poppies, etc.)
  • Directly interferes with crops and other plants

Park staff are making a concerted effort to locate, identify, and treat these weeds with proven Integrated Pest Management procedures. This is important to guarantee that federally and state listed noxious weeds and other nonnative species do not gain a foothold and then replace the native plant communities found here.

Did You Know?

Box elder trees on battlefield

The two box elder trees in the Nez Perce camp area at Bear Paw Battlefield are the same trees that were there in 1877. Over the years they have died back or been burnt, but these hardy members of the maple family always grow back.