BIDDEFORD, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Research students from the University of New England are proving science can be fun.
They threw 50 lemons, 50 oranges and 50 squash into the Saco River. It's not just for fun...it's to test the spread of invasive weeds called Phragmites that were brought to the United States from Europe in the late 1700's.
Phragmites are fairly new to Maine and have already decimated populations of other native plants in southern New England. The roots of phragmites grow horizontally rather than vertically, and they thrive on disrupted soil.
The students hope the invasive weeds don't steal the nutrients from native plants in the Saco River Estuary. They say the fruit and vegetables mimic the roots of the weeds in the way they float down the river. An added bonus of the lemons, oranges and squash is they are bright, so they can be spotted by residents living along the river. When the fruit washes ashore, the residents are asked to log onto the website written on the fruit. There, they will be asked to enter the corresponding number on the fruit to show how far it traveled.