Non-Native Invasive Plant Information
Why are invasive plants such a threat?
Non-native plants can be found in nearly every ecosystem in the world. One out of every three of Ohio’s plant species are non-native. Most of Ohio’s non-native plants hail from the temperate climates of Europe and Asia and have settled comfortably into our ecosystems. However, some non-native plants find that the insects, animals, and conditions that kept their numbers in balance in their home ecosystems are completely missing here. With nothing to stop them, they explode in numbers, in some cases completely displacing what was previously a high diversity in our native wildflowers and shrubs.
Common Invasive Plants
Garlic mustard is a non-native biennial herb from Europe that has escaped into the wild and has become a serious invasive in our woodlands. In just a few years after it arrives to a new site, it can form a dense single-species carpet that effectively crowds out and kills over a hundred species of native wildflowers and under story plants on the forest floor – right where the forest’s greatest plant biodiversity is normally found.
Asian Bush Honeysuckle
Originally introduced as an ornamental plant, bush honeysuckle grows so densely that it shades out the entire forest floor, leaving nothing but bare soil underneath. This not only removes habitat for native plant species but also removes food plants and cover for birds and other animals. Bush honeysuckle plants are tall enough that serious infestations can even prevent new trees from growing.
Multiflora Rose & Autumn Olive
Both of these shrubs were originally cultivated as ornamentals, and planted for erosion control. Like many other invasive species, they form dense thickets that crowd out native species.
Each fall as the summer begins to unfold, staff and volunteers gather in the forests to become active and loving caretakers of the land, scanning the landscape and carefully removing the non-native plants that threaten the integrity of the our outstanding floral displays and the ecology of our plant communities. Just one day of your time can make a world of difference for the welfare of our fields and forests. The task is a pleasant one. If you love being outside, healing the land, and you find repetitive tasks to be meditatively peaceful, removing invasive plants can even be slightly addictive! Not to mention the fact it is a glorious time to be out in the woods.
We do use herbicides
Over the years we slowly realized that herbicides were the only feasible way we could remove the non-native shrubs invading our natural communities. (Garlic mustard, by contrast, can be simply and effectively pulled.) To remove shrubs, our most common strategy is to use a hand saw to cut them down near the ground (usually 1-2 inch diameter) and then apply some herbicide (usually Garlon) with a lab applicator bottle to the cut stump. We ask all herbicide applicators to wear some kind of protective eyewear (prescription glasses or sunglasses are perfect), and rubber coated garden gloves. As herbicides go, Garlon is not particularly perilous, but we will treat it like it is, just to be on the safe side.
No experience necessary!
Human beings are literally born to recognize plants in the woods. We’ve been doing it successfully for hundreds of thousands of years. You will be amazed how proficient you will become at plant recognition in just 20 minutes of time. Soon your hands and eyes do all the thinking for you and you can simply relax and enjoy the forest.
Volunteers with a wide range of physical capability can successfully perform this work. It does not require much physical endurance nor strength, but it does usually involve quite a bit of either bending over or squatting, so good joints and good balance are prerequisites to be able to enjoy the work.
Please contact Kayla Rankin with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-365-1935.