Crow’s Nest: Invasive Plants Lecture

March 21, 2018

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager.

Photo: Daniel Barringer

On Friday I had the opportunity to team up with Amy L. Jewitt from the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy/Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and Jess Slade, Natural Areas Section Leader at Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, to present a seminar about managing invasive plants strategically. The program was held at Morris Arboretum, and thankfully, the above photo of Japanese akebia (Akebia quinquifolia) was not taken there—though this photo is from a nature center located in the Philadelphia region. (I was an intern at Morris Arboretum many years ago, before starting at Natural Lands.)

Our argument is that our goals, objectives, and strategies should be based upon restoring native plant communities that function despite the presence of some (managed) invasive plants; it just isn’t possible to eradicate all invasive plants. I spoke about some of the invaders present in our region, how we articulate our stewardship goals at Natural Lands, and then how we go about managing the invasive species.

Amy Jewitt manages the iMapInvasives website and mobile app, powerful tools for mapping invasives and tracking project management for them. She walked participants through the layers of website features that can be customized to the user’s needs. In the afternoon we walked outside and took sample data using the app on our phones, and then she showed us how that data looks when uploaded to the website. The data set becomes more useful the more people contribute to it and the tool can be used to locate other managers who are dealing with the same species.

Jess Slade walked us through the natural areas section of the Arboretum, showing a deer exclosure, some unique invasive plants that she is managing, and shared the techniques she is using there. Back inside she showed us the Geographic Information System mapping the Arboretum uses to track the major canopy trees, including invasive species.

The seminar was a great opportunity for sharing among the professionals and home gardeners who attended. Among other things, I found out that Japanese akebia is far more widespread in our region than I realized! I am grateful to Morris Arboretum for the opportunity to participate.