Native Plants, Habitat Restoration, and Other Science Snippets from Athens, Georgia

Sunday: 11 October 2009

Year Seven Microstegium Report  -  @ 05:47:47
It's time for the Year Seven Annual Report on the Microstegium vimineum eradication. It turns out that the last report was also made on October 11. And I thought I was behind, this year.

I'll actually have a little picking up and checking to do but the bulk of it is complete. And I was a little late - although I use the weeds earlier in the season as mulch, they're too far in the process of making seeds now to do anything but bag them, and I have five large garbage bags at the moment.

Here's the map, but it became too cluttered to try to put all the numbers from four years. So this year I'm just going to indicate by big red numbers the location headers that appear in the accompanying table.


The green sprackling indicates places that I neglected through triage this year, and last (it doesn't indicate that there's Microstegium there - just that I didn't canvass it). The big red numbers correlate the map locations to the table entries. In the table, I've bolded numbers where there have been apparent increases in plants pulled.

Except for the stream (5), I believe the bolded numbers, especially for the house area (1) and the fairy ring area (2), can be attributed to one of two things. The most likely is that the plants were simply much larger than in the previous three years. This is likely due to the milder weather and greater rainfall, but the upshot was that it was hard to know when you were pulling a single plant. So my estimates are likely to be exaggerated by as much as 2-4 fold. (They don't call it Japanese stilt grass for nothing!)

I wouldn't be surprised though if there actually were larger numbers, and again because of the especially wet early spring and mild summer. We'll have to wait until next year to be sure but I'd bet that some very old seed lying dormant for years did germinate, and represent the last of the seed from the pre-2003 infestations.

The stream (5) is exceptional. In March 2007 it flooded substantially, washing large numbers of seeds from other people's property upstream. This was reflected in 2007's larger number of pulled plants along the banks. They were also where you would expect them - especially along the outward banks of the twists and turns, where deposition of sand is the greatest.

I'd already said a couple of years ago that I'd given up on the lower banks of Goulding Creek. Too much flooding brings new seed down from upstream every other year, and it's hopeless. Not so with SBS Creek, the feeder stream, and I'll continue with that. The appearance and proliferation of other native grasses, blue stem goldenrod, downy lobelia, and soapwort has made this a priority to maintain.

Eventually though, we're going to get a major rain and flood that will indundate the floodplain (areas 9 and the lower part of 8 ). We call this the floodplain area, and it is, but it's high enough above the creek that only extraordinary flooding reaches it. Still, such flooding will sow the entire area with fresh seed and we'll have to start over again. But I've already mentioned the abundant stands of desirable crownbeard and bearpaw, and this year I saw quite a few individuals of ladies' tresses orchid (Spiranthes) putting out flowers. I've also seen a lot of rattlesnake plantain orchid, and you can't have too much of that!

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bev - email - url
Kudos for another year of work on your eradication program. On my way across Canada, I've been watching the roadsides for invasives and have seen plenty of examples. I guess the worst was miles and miles of tansy ragwort west of Kenora, Ontario. Such sights are a good reminder of how difficult it can be to every truly eradicate a plant, but that it's worth the effort to prevent further spread. I agree about the weather being a factor in plant proliferation. We had a very rainy spring and summer at the farm and ssome plants that I'd believed to be all but stamped out, made a return appearance.
Sunday: 11 October 2009 @ 14:54:43


Steve K. - email
My wife used to be on the Federal Interagency Committee for the Management of Noxious and Exotic Weeds. The Washington Post has a language contest every Sunday, and one week it was to come up with a new, more appropriate motto for a federal agency -- someone sent in "FICMNEW: Standing at the edge of the sea with our hands outstretched, trying to stop the waves."
Sunday: 11 October 2009 @ 15:23:38


Pablo - email - url
Does this map show your new property? I suppose you have the invasives there, too.
Monday: 12 October 2009 @ 09:44:45


Wayne - email - url
Bev - it's an interesting thing that I can concentrate on one particular thing while there are other invasives (like privet and russian olive) that I've pretty much ignored to this point. It's a matter of scale, in my case, with the grass assuming such a smothering presence. Still, I've seen areas where privet literally chokes everything out, so this winter I should probably take that on.

Steve - that's exactly the image that I've come to realize is inevitable. At some point I suppose I will no longer be able to do this, so it's been more in the way of beginning to document what shows up during the interval when I am able to keep the M under control. At some point in the future I'll probably be documenting what disappears as the M again begins to dominate. That's sort of sad, but there's not much to be done about it.

Pablo - the map does show the new property to the left side in the area marked "K", and extending westward along Goulding Creek. There is plenty of M there too, but there's probably no way I'm going to be able to tackle that.
Monday: 12 October 2009 @ 09:53:54


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