Invasive Plants

by Bruce Wenning

Tree of Heaven 1.220Common Name: Tree-of-heaven

Plant Taxonomy: Family Simaroubaceae  Genus Ailanthus  Species: altissima (P.Miller) Swingle (Synonym: A. glandulosa) (Magee and Ahles, 2007).

Regulations: The importation, distribution, trade, and sale of tree-of-heaven have been banned in Massachusetts effective January 1, 2009 (Massachusetts Prohibited Plant List website, 2012).

General Description

Brief history. Tree-of-heaven is a fast growing, deciduous, exotic invasive tree that is able to germinate and grow in a wide variety of soil and site conditions proving that it has been and still is troublesome from urban landscapes to woodlands. It can reach a height of 80 plus feet tall, has become naturalized in most of the United States, and grows in a wide variety of other habitats including, but not limited to, forest edges and gaps, grassy fields, roadsides, backyards, local parks, agricultural fields, and reclaimed surface-mined lands (Miller, 1990; Somers, Kramer, Lombard, and Brumback, 2006). Continue reading

This article first appeared in EcoRI News, May 4, 2014.

by ecoRI News staff

A team of researchers led by a University of Rhode Island professor has completed a five-year study of the Appalachian Trail and developed a satellite-based system for monitoring and forecasting ecological conditions along the trail. One of its initial conclusions is that the invasive species tree-of-heaven is expected to expand northward into New England because of climate change. Continue reading

by Maria Bartlett

Richard Casagrande, Professor of Entomology at the University of Rhode Island lectured on August 2, 2012 at Massachusetts Horticulture Society on “Biological Control of Invasives.” He covered the efforts underway by scientists in the Northeast to use biological methods to control invasive plants and insects so that chemical pesticides and herbicides do not have to be used. Professor Casagrande provided a research update in August 2013. Continue reading

outsmart_logo (2)by Julia Sullivan

Anyone with a smartphone can help control invasive species in Massachusetts at the touch of a finger. Learn how by joining the Outsmart Invasive Species Project, a collaborative project among individuals from UMass, MA Department of Conservation and Recreation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Nature Conservancy. The Project focuses on using smartphone technology to stop the spread of non-native plants and insects that jeopardize a healthy environment. Continue reading

by Rebecca Chizzo

If you looked out over the wetland border and onto the Sudbury River in August of 2012, you would have seen a few determined souls cutting and bagging Black swallow-wort pods. It was a hot month, and most people were busy with vacation activities, but some took time to join a local effort to correct the environmental wrong caused by the non-native milkweed relative. Volunteers dug and bagged several large root crowns until it became obvious that without more help only seed pods could be collected. They then stuffed thirty large feed bags with pods containing many thousands of winged seeds that would have taken flight to new locations. Continue reading

by Tim Simmons

Non-native Phragmites has been described as perhaps the most widely distributed and abundant grass on earth. For more than 25 years I have observed Phragmites’ effects on important habitats and attempted to control it without causing any harm to the habitats I work in, all of which support species and communities of conservation concern in Massachusetts. Continue reading

by Jed Winer

Reprinted with permission from Research Next University of Massachusetts Amherst.

As climate change causes species to move northward, ecologist Bethany Bradley is keeping a close eye on invasive plants in the United States. Bradley, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Conservation at UMass Amherst, says the key to mitigating impacts from invasive species is early detection. “The big key with invasive species — and this is true with plants, animals, insects, anything — is that if you catch them early, you actually have a chance to eradicate them or stop them. But once they’ve gained a foothold, the odds go down markedly.” Continue reading

by Bruce Wenning

Common Name: Japanese barberry

Plant Taxonomy: Family Berberidaceae. Genus Berberis. Species: Berberis thunbergii DC. (for C.P. Thunberg). (Magee and Ahles, 2007).

Regulations: The importation, distribution, trade, and sale of Japanese barberry have been banned in Massachusetts effective January 1, 2009 (Massachusetts Prohibited Plant List website, 2012).

General Description: Japanese barberry is an exotic invasive shrub that is well established in home and commercial landscapes. Ward and Williams (2011) report that this species is established in 31 states and four Canadian provinces. A popular ornamental deciduous shrub it ranges in size from three to seven or more feet in height (Johnson, 1996; Whitcomb, 1985). Shrubs that have not been pruned have a compact, dense form which is typically more broad than tall at maturity (Zouhar, 2008). Japanese barberry exhibits a high ornamental value plus it responds very well to pruning which is why landscape designers fell in love with this plant years ago. Continue reading

by Louise Barteau Chodoff

GROVE is located in Carpenter Woods, a birding park in Philadelphia. It is a small scale restoration project that evolved from an art project that began with paper trees and ended with real trees. There may be no better way to learn about plants – native and non-native – than to try to transform a mature Japanese knotweed stand into a native oak grove using little more than art and hand tools. Continue reading

The positive results of removing invasive plants are often evident in the return of native species to the area. But what happens to the plant material that has been removed? Does it have to be destined for the incinerator or landfill? Apparently not: artists and others are finding responsible ways to utilize the invasive plant material they remove. Highlighted here are some innovators who have found ways to creatively utilize the invasives they remove from the landscape. Continue reading