Crow’s Nest: Volunteers work on invasive plants

February 12, 2024

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager.

I deliberately use an undramatic verb in the title above; I could say they “conquer” or “vanquish” invasive plants, but that’s not the attitude we use to approach our work. While our goals are to be a home for plant communities that exhibit less impact from invasive plants, and we put a lot of time and energy into managing invasive plants, I try not to create too much of an adversarial relationship with these aggressive plants. It’s not their fault that they’re more successful than we want them to be.

That said, volunteers cutting invasives with hand tools has combined really well with staff later using power tools like brush cutters and chainsaws and limited, targeted applications of herbicides. This month our crew of volunteers chatted as they worked their way through a section of woods along the side of the Creek Trail where it first enters the woods. Multiflora rose was the most common invasive plant encountered there, but now is almost none is left standing. By the time it resprouts from the roots, it will have lost the edge that it usually has—leafing out in April before the canopy above does, taking advantage of early spring sunlight. Its reduced size also puts it back into the range of deer browse, though I don’t know how much they actually do consume. And it also seems like rose rosette disease affects primarily young growth, and the resprouting shoots may be susceptible to it. We may get back to treat some stumps with herbicide, but even if we don’t, our volunteers have already created the conditions where multiflora rose will be less dominant on this site than it was before they started. And that was our intent. Below, the happy group with the improved plant community beyond:

Volunteers with hand tools posing in front of the woods where they were cutting multiflora rose.

Photo: Cody Hudgens