Mariton: Vine Cutting Impact

February 21, 2020

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

A young Tuliptree with a Sumac in the background. The volunteers saved both with a few snips of the pruning shears.

Mariton had another session of invasive plant removal the other day – and once again I forgot to take any photos of the volunteers while they were working.  It is one of those things.  I usually do a demonstration of the different vines and cutting techniques, then talk briefly about the reasons we’re doing this and the goals.  Then it is like watching dairy cows rushing to the barn at milking time:  the volunteers and I dive into cutting vines with determination.  While we occasionally chat, I completely forget about taking photos.

A Sassafras sapling freed just in time. Another growing season and the vines would have killed this tree.

So, I’ll suffice with some photos of the impact that they had on the stand of trees.  Honestly, if you ask most of the volunteers, they are more concerned about the outcome than they are about their photos.  On Thursday, we tackled a section of woods where most of the mature trees fell during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.  It is now mostly young saplings, but the Japanese honeysuckle and Oriental bittersweet are growing up many of those young trees.  If left unchecked the vines can literally strangle the trees by cutting off the flow of water and nutrients within the trunk of the tree.  Since the tree regeneration at Mariton is so phenomenal it is important that these trees grow to replace the trees toppled in the storm.

Another Tuliptree saved by the volunteers. You can see the thick brush in the background.

The area where we were working has challenges.  The Tuliptrees, Sassafras, Staghorn Sumac, and Spicebush are densely packed.  (A result of all the sunshine after trees were toppled.)  It was a lot of work just to walk through, let alone cut the vines.  Yet, I witnessed the satisfaction in everyone’s face when we finally broke through all that brush onto the trail again.  The volunteers had touched and connected with the baby trees, and they had freed them from certain death.  What an accomplishment!  So, thank you Gary, Jane, Barbara, Phyllis, Mike, Don and Jessie for saving the lives of so many trees.  We’ll be doing it again on March 5 in another section that needs our help.