So now we are all a little more aware of what bladderwort is… but there is more…

By: Sonja Wixom

I began researching about bladderwort and what kind of controls are available for it. I discovered that Binghamton University has done plenty of research on this specific bladderwort, Utricularia inflata, after giving a presentation during their graduate studies symposium! I got to actually meet the people who wrote these articles, very interesting. The important thing to note is that Binghamton University did the studies on this species in the Adirondacks, which are very similar to the Catskills – if you remember from a previous blog post, they are similar in the fact that their watersheds are dominated by ‘needle bearing’ trees which then affect the acidity of the water and voilà carnivorous bladderwort is found. However, Binghamton University states that this species is an invasive species. Before we get too caught up on what that means for Koinonia lets breakdown the meaning of invasive species.

An invasive species is a species that is not native (was not there before human settlement) and causes harm, either to the environment, other species survival, or humans. The best example would be zebra mussels, have you ever swam in a rocky-bottom lake and discovered your feet were all cut up? This is the work of zebra mussels! Do not worry! Koinonia does not have the right substrate for these creatures to survive! The other side of the coin are native species, which means they were there living before human settlement. Can native species create problems too? Yes! In this instance they are referred to as ‘nuisance’ species; these are species that are suppose to be in the environment in which they are found but they create monocultures, or take over an area while outcompeting other species. So it is kind of a spectrum… think about it like this:

There is also an interesting article from the New York Times about these kind of species:

So back to the bladderwort – when I checked the USDA website for the listing, it actually states that Utricularia inflata is listed as endangered. If you are confused, it is okay – this finding was confusing everyone involved! Check it out here:

After speaking with my advisor and a few state representatives – it is determined that this species of bladderwort should be referred to as a nuisance and to leave it at that. I did pursue university and state government agencies from other states (i.e. Florida, Texas, Massachusetts, and New Jersey) to try and compare the genetics. I thought perhaps this was a different subset, or even a new species…. But, these plants are rare in these areas too so getting samples was impossible. However, in my final report I am going to make mention that this is an interesting discovery and further science is needed in this area!

What else about invasive species….

Koinonia is a prime example of an area that has everything to lose from invasive species. It is largely undisturbed, and not much settlement in the watershed besides some residence and, of course, the actual camp. The ecosystem is functioning well and plenty of diversity is seen! The big risk factor for the property is the amount of people who travel to enjoy it! The more people who come, the more chances for species from other areas to arrive as well… Koinonia is for everyone to enjoy, so it is important to understand a little about invasive species.

Invasive species travel – how? We call them hitchhikers for a reason! Species can travel on (or in) your car, on your boots, fishing poles, waders, lifejackets, and even your dog! So how can we prevent it? Before you leave to come to Koinonia please check the things you are bringing for mud/sediment, animals, plants or reproductive structures of plants, like flowers or nuts! Becoming trained in the lake ecology field we have a saying: ‘clean, drain, and dry’. This refers to when you leave one body of water – BEFORE YOU MOVE AWAY FROM THAT BODY OF WATER – you must clean all the plants and mud from your equipment, boat, and trailer. Then you drain your boat by pulling the plug and emptying any live well water. Many animals and plants have microscopic lifecycles that can live in this water, so it is important to leave it where you found it! Lastly, you dry your boat by leaving it in the sun for 5 sunny days (cloudy days don’t count!). Nothing aquatic will survive that long in the sun and therefore your boat and equipment would be ready for a trip to a different body of water. It is important for this last step that if you wished to go to another body of water sooner, say you were on a fishing trip – then you are encouraged to visit a boat wash station that have become more and more popular in New York. These stations are usually free and supply 140 – 160 degree water that will sterilize your stuff without worry of invasive species!

These steps are important to think about in your future visits to Koinonia. Also important to think about is how these can relate to dry, terrestrial environments. I am working to get boot brushes in the welcome buildings, as well as the entrance to the water from the road and the lakeside cabin. These allow guests to clean off their boots and shoes upon arrival and before they go hiking! So if you see ones of these – show your friends how to use it and let them know why!

New York has also started an organization called PRISM, standing for Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management. There are 8 of these regions within New York. Koinonia belongs to the Catskill Region Invasive Species Partnership; or more commonly called CRISP. There are trainings frequently and I have a personal connection with the director. If you are interested in taking this training please let Joanne know and we can schedule one! Here are some links for your exploration:

Are there other invasive species at Koinonia?...

Yes, there is a couple that I am aware of – is it anything to seriously worry about? No!

Phragmites spp. Or its common name is ‘common reed’. This invasive is super popular everywhere! It is very common along highways, rivers, streams, pastures, - just about anywhere! Early in the growing season it has a purple-ish tint and is actually quite pretty. Next time you go on a drive through the country, take a look beyond the guardrail and you are sure to find it. As for Koinonia, there is a small patch that lives up the edge of mud pond, past the floating bridge. The patch is very small and does not have much threat to spread. Common reed is known to do very well in salt water condtions, this is why it is such a successful invader… but, it doesn’t seem to do well with acidic conditions. This is why I think it is so limited to this little patch that seems to live off of rainwater that isn’t high in acidity!

1) Dennstaedtia punctilobula or common name ‘Eastern hay scented fern’. You may recognize this fern from walking around the woods, or even the surrounding area of Eldred or Highland Lake. It is extremely common now, and some may even suggest it as ‘naturalized’. However, it is still listed as invasive within New York. I am a lover of ferns and think this one is beautiful – this is how many invasive actually spread, people think they are a nice plant and decide to plant them everywhere! Check out this article about eastern hay scented fern in New York:

2) Microstegium vimineum or Japanese stiltgrass was spotted by my advisor and myself on a trip to Koinonia back in July. We were looking for invasive species all around Sullivan County as a part of a CRISP grant – and this stuff was everywhere!! Biologist and botanist use an application called ‘Imap invasives’. This is an app on a smart device, or computer, where citizens and citizen scientist can take pictures of plants and identify them (if they are invasive) – and can use GPS technology to let others know where they found certain species. Professionals in the field then go out, like we did this summer, to check out these points and validate if they have the species listed correctly. Imap invasives requires users to go through training before they are allowed to create invasive points. You may go check out this app and play around, but if you’d like to be certified please let Joanne know and we can set that up too! Check it out here:

Back to the stiltgrass…. It is not a huge concern at this point, because just like the common reed – it is everywhere. I am more writing this for visitors, staff, and stakeholders to be aware of what invasives Koinonia already has, as well as to try and limit the possibility of more coming in.

Visit this link for more information on Japanese Stiltgrass:

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