Displaying items by tag: herbicide
Some folks may think that with the onset of winter, we can stop thinking about invasive plants - after all, they aren't growing in winter, right? Well, while we may not have to worry about them growing during the dormant months of winter, natural area managers find that this is the best time to work on removing invasive shrubs, trees and vines. After all, one doesn't have to deal with ticks and mosquitoes, plus, with the leaves off, it is much easier to cut and mulch (or burn) brush.
The picture above shows Oriental Bittersweet - an invasive vine that literally strangles trees like our beloved oaks. Artists seem to value the twisty stems, and florists love the prolific orange-clad berries for fall flower arrangements. However, left unchecked, this vine will pull down mature trees in just a few years.
Fortunately, this is an invasive plant that can be managed easily during the winter months once one knows how to identify it, and provided you have the proper chemical to apply to any cut stumps.
For those who dislike even the idea of using herbicides, I have to tell you that the alternative is to keep cutting the same plant every year. And, cutting these plants just encourages them to come back more aggressively the next year. Seriously. It is like the stories of Medusa - cut off her head, and seven new heads grew in its place. Cut one honeysuckle stem this winter, and you'll be cutting at least seven new stems next year if you don't give it a shot of herbicide.
Fortunately, herbicides will work when applied correctly in very small quantities. Since they are a poison, it is vital to wear proper protective gear and use the proper application technique to avoid harming yourself or native plants that may be growing nearby.
There is a lot of good information out there to help manage invasive plants in winter.
Friend Chris Evans coordinates an "Invasive Species" (eradication) Campaign in Illinois, and he often shares great information about best practices for recognizing and controlling invasive plants in Illinois. He posted a useful article recently that covers the basics of winter management of several of the most irritating invasive plants: Honeysuckle, Autumn Olive, Multiflora Rose, and Oriental Bittersweet. The article can be accessed here: Winter Management of Common Woody Invasive Species.
The article is on the site "Illinois Invasive Species Awareness Month," so you will find a lot of additional helpful advice about managing these pesky invaders.
A friend just forwarded me a booklet that was created by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources that provides a comprehensive look at controlling Reed Canary Grass, a plant that has virtually eliminated diversity in many of the area's wetlands in just the last ten years.
This is an aggressive plant that was promoted as a good choice for livestock forage until fairly recently. In fact, you might see if for sale now and then. It grows particularly well in sunny, low-lying areas. And, once it is established, it is very difficult to get rid of it. I suppose, if you are planting it as feed for your livestock, that's a good thing. But, it seems that once it takes hold in a wetland - especially one where it is not wanted - it is very tough to eliminate.
The plant sprouts early - before most native species. By mid June, it has set seed - lots and lots of seed. It's a relatively tall grass, so the seed heads blow in the wind, spreading each plant's progeny far and wide. Each seed remains viable for several years, so it will take at least that long to get a handle on it, since you'll have to deplete the seedbank.
Reed Canary Grass is a perennial, meaning that not only do new plants grow from the seed, but last year's plants come back. The plant also spreads through rhizomes that extend from the parent plant up to 10 feet a year. The rhizomes form a dense mat just beneath the soil surface, making it difficult for other plants to germinate.
The guidebook, pictured at left, is called Reed Canary Grass (Phalaris arundinacea) Management Guide: Recommendations for Landowners and Restoration Professionals, Wisconsin Reed Canary Grass Management Working Group. 2009. You can download a copy by clicking here.
The booklet spells out quite clearly the correct use of a wide variety of management tools - burning, herbicide, excavation, mowing, tilling the soil, etc, etc. The bottomline is that there is no "one best way" to get rid of this invasive menace, but by being diligent and combining a variety of management techniques, you can get a handle on it - eventually.