Tag Archive for invasive plants

Invasives can sneak into any garden

Three of the most prolific invasive plants in Connecticut – Japanese barberry, Oriental bittersweet, and multiflora rose – can sneak into any garden, making it very important to learn how to identify and manage them.

Learn to identify Connecticut’s invasives by studying the information at the Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group, seeking the advice of gardener or garden coach experienced in identifying the most prolific garden invasives in your area, and/or taking small samples to a trusted, local garden center for identification.

During this time of year, when invasive shrubs and vines are leafing out, I search for young Japanese barberry, Oriental bittersweet, and multiflora rose sprouting in and around bird-popular shrubs and trees. Birds eat the berries produced by more mature specimens of these invasives growing on neighboring properties, then spread undigested seeds via droppings. So … just below where birds like to roost is a good place to watch for emerging invasives.

What I found this week under a bird-popular winterberry shrub growing at the edge of our driveway is a perfect example.

Invasive Japanese barberry, Oriental bittersweet, and multiflora rose sprouted under a winterberry shrub

Invasive Japanese barberry, Oriental bittersweet, and multiflora rose sprouted under a winterberry shrub

You might not expect this to be the scene of an invasion … but it was. Among young winterberry shoots, different types of sedum, violets, an iris, ornamental grasses, and a dandelion grew three very unwanted plants.

The young Japanese barberry caught my eye first.

Young Japanese barberry

Young Japanese barberry

Then a closer look revealed a multiflora rose and young Oriental bittersweet shoots.

Young Oriental bittersweet and multiflora rose

Young Oriental bittersweet and multiflora rose

Without a keen eye and knowing what is what, it’s easy to pass over the bittersweet as emerging winterberry shoots, but closer examination reveals the difference in the leaves.

Now that I’ve found the three invasives growing under this winterberry, I will recheck the area throughout the growing season to be sure no other bird-dropped seeds have sprouted.

Once one becomes adept in how these three young invasives look, finding them becomes easier. Familiarize yourself with the look of young Japanese barberry; note the thorny stems. Moreover, the interior roots are yellow-green.

Young Japanese barberry, Oriental bittersweet, and multiflora rose pulled  and left to dry and die.

Young Japanese barberry, Oriental bittersweet, and multiflora rose pulled and left to dry and die.

The multiflora rose has a typical-looking rose leaf and the stems sport classic rose thorns.

Oriental bittersweet can be sneaky, but once you familiarize yourself with the various stages of growth, you’ll become quite adept at -spotting this invasive vine. Leaves on young vines are light green, the stems – with leaves at the very end – usually stand straight up reaching toward the light and the roots are orange.

Do not put these plants in the compost pile. Leave them on a hot surface to dry and die before disposing of them in the trash.

By finding these three invasives early, you can usually pull them out of the ground with roots intact. Once they become larger it becomes more difficult to get all the roots out of the ground, which allows re-sprouting. Still, any location where one of these young invasives has been found and pulled must be re-visited through the growing season to check for re-growth which, of course, requires re-pulling and continued re-checking.

Why bother with all this? All three are highly invasive and crowd out other, often native, vegetation. Japanese barberry is particularly noxious and creates a perfect habitat for disease-bearing ticks. Oriental bittersweet is a vine that will wind around and smother anything. Multiflora rose is thorny and not the nicest looking rose,  grows quickly, and crowds out other vegetation. Plus, these invasives are much easier to eradicate when young, with small root systems. Once any of the three become established they are a whole lot more difficult to eradicate.

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Winter Review: are you invasive species savvy?

Winter is the ideal dream time for cold-climate gardeners, but it’s also a perfect time to review good gardening practices and increase your gardening knowledge. For this Winter Review we’ll examine invasive species.

February 23 to 28, 2014 is National Invasive Species Awareness Week. Since winter snow covers most of Connecticut and cold temperatures continue to keep most gardeners inside, now is a great time read 10 Ways To Observe National Invasive Species Awareness Week.

There are many ways to prevent spreading invasive plants and creatures that seriously impact native species:

  • cleaning hiking boots, waders, boats/trailers, off-road vehicles, and other equipment or gear on which an invasive seed, plant, or creature may hitch a ride;
  • not dumping aquariums or live bait into waterways – something I thought was a no-duh;
  • using hay, mulch, and soil designated weed-free;
  • and planting only non-invasive landscape plants.

But, there are other means by which invasive plants and creatures spread: seeds and plant pieces may hitch a ride on gardening and lawn mowing equipment; potentially invasive weeds and seeds may arrive in nursery plants; and gardeners can inadvertently transport potentially invasive species by sharing plants from yard to yard or region to region. Even firewood can hide invasive insects – are you aware of the Emerald Ash Borer-caused ban on moving wood from ash trees and firewood out of New Haven county?

To become invasive species savvy, gardeners, homeowners, landscape workers – in essence everyone – must know where to find solid, trustworthy information. In Connecticut, start with

For a plant to be listed as invasive in Connecticut, it must be non-native and harm the environment, human health or cause economic harm in minimally managed areas (woodlands, waterways, open spaces) through its ability to establish and rapidly grow in a wide variety of conditions, reproduce prolifically, disperse over wide areas by vegetative fragments and/or seeds, and lack the growth and reproductive controls evident in the plant’s native regions.

A few of Connecticut’s most prolific terrestrial invasive plants include

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Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus), as young plants and roots above;

 

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Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii) as young plants, above, and en-masse, below, in early spring;

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and Japanese Stilt Grass (Microstegium vimineum) as it emerges in early summer …

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and shortly before it goes to flower and seed.

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Connecticut is also plagued by Autumn Olive (Elaegnus umbellata), Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata), Japanese Knotweed (Polygonum (Falopia) cuspidatum), Multiflora Rose (Rosa multiflora), Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus), and multiple other trees, shrubs, annuals, perennials, grasses and aquatic plants.

The Invasive Plant Atlas of New England is another great resource for New Englanders. Those in other regions should research the invasive species information provided by their state.

Learning about invasive species is an ongoing process … after gardening for more than three decades, I’m still learning. Every region is different, but learning what is already determined to be invasive in your area is the FIRST STEP in becoming invasive species savvy.

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Learn about local invasive plants

Here’s an opportunity to gain some hands-on knowledge about invasive plants plaguing Connecticut.

Gillettes Castle Invasives flyerVisit Gillette Castle in East Haddam on the third Sunday of June, July, August, and September, to learn how to identify and manage invasive plants that are likely or may soon try to establish on your property.

Master Gardeners with the University of Connecticut Master Gardener Program will speak, help identify, and answer questions about locally prevalent invasive plants.

These free education sessions run from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm, with a nature walk along the trails at Gillette’s Castle at 1:00 pm (kids are welcome).

The woodlands around Gillette Castle make a great invasive plant training ground. One of the major invasives there is Chinese wisteria. Chinese wisteria was planted around the castle grounds as a decorative landscape vine years ago. But, as Chinese wisteria will do when left to its natural devices, it spread … and spread … and spread.

Most of the ornamental wisteria you see planted in Connecticut is Chinese wisteria and, left untended, will act the same – spread and spread. When Chinese wisteria’s large purple flowers are in bloom it’s pretty easy to identify where the vine has spread into trees along some of Connecticut’s highways. It aggressively send roots underground and vines above ground choking out and weighing down everything it comes into contact with.

If wisteria is a must have in your ornamental garden the preferable wisteria to the Chinese variety (Wisteria sinensis) is native American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens).

During the nature walks on each Sunday, attendees will see just how much Chinese wisteria has spread along some of the castle trails and learn about the active project to reduce the infestation of Chinese wisteria at Gillette Castle.

Meet at the Gillette Castle State Park Visitors Center at 11:00 am this Sunday, June 16 or the following Sundays of July 21, August 18, and/or September 22.

Questions? Call 203-208-6085 or email AliensatGilletteCastle@gmail.com.

Before attending one of these informational sessions, get a heads-up on the many invasive plants, shrubs and trees altering Connecticut’s landscape by wandering around the Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group website. You’ll be better armed to absorb the information you’ll hear during your Gillette Castle visit.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013 Joene Hendry