Invasive weeds wrinkle noses; Saguaro Nat'l Park pulls for stinknet removal effort

Saguaro National Park is seeking help from the community to remove invasive stinknet from the Sonoran desert landscape. 

Stinknet blooms, imports from southern Africa, are bright yellow and bulbous. Vibrant and pretty, they now sprawl across Southern Arizona, but they’re harmful to local plants such as native wildflowers.

In addition, as the weather grows warmer, dried-up stinknet stalks increase the chance of wildfires in the desert, much like buffelgrass. A Saguaro National Park news release also said stinknet flowers secrete an irritant, which can cause respiratory and skin allergic reactions in people.

“While stinknet is relatively new to Tucson and Pima County, biologists are concerned about its rapid rate of spread and consider it to be the most dangerous invasive plant since buffelgrass was introduced in the 1930s,” officials said in the news release.

There are different ways the Tucson community can help with the issue. The first is by going online and submitting a report to www.stinknet.org when the plants are spotted. Landowners can then be contacted about removal, stopping it from spreading further. The second way to help is by volunteering in stinknet removals. 

The national park along with the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Pima County, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Tucson Audobon Society, will be hosting plant pulls similar as the ones they organize to remove buffelgrass. More information such as times, dates, locations and details on what to wear to ensure safety while pulling plants can be found in the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum website.

If people see stinknet while out and about, they should avoid stepping on the weeds and walking near them. Not only can they irritate the skin, but stepping on them can cause seeds to spread. 

To learn more about stinknet and to report the locations of the flowering weeds, visit www.stinknet.org.