Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Going After the Foreign Invader

Veterans' Day seemed like a good day to go attack a foreign invader.  By this I mean the Japanese Hops I found along Bog Meadow Trail a couple of days ago.  In the meantime I received permission to dig it up from Saratoga PLAN, the land conservation organization that manages this trail and many others in Saratoga County.  Left to its own devices, this aggressive invasive species could overrun this wooded wetland that is home to many rare and interesting native plants.  It was easy for me to find the Japanese Hops today, because I remembered it was very near the small rustic bench set by the water, as shown in this photo below.

I was a little concerned that overnight rains might have beaten the tell-tale seed husks from the vine, but no, they were still there, and quite evident because of their ruddy color against the dull gray of the other vines and shrubs.

Carefully snipping the seedpods and collecting them in a trash bag to prevent spreading the seeds, I then began to dig around the base of the vine.  And dig and dig, using only the little trowel I'd brought with me and then my bare hands.  Oh boy, was this root thick!  I could not remove it all, for it ran for a considerable distance underground, but I tugged until I removed a good bit of it.

This is as much as I could remove with the tool I had and using only my hands and strength.  Obviously, I did not get it all, so we will have to be vigilant to watch for new growth when spring comes.

Considering how stout and well-established that root was, it seemed unlikely there would be only one specimen of Japanese Hops in all of this swamp.  I continued along the trail for another half mile or so, looking for the distinctive ruddy color and rough texture of the vines.  About a hundred yards from the original site, I did find two more vines emerging from the soil and twining around neighboring shrubs.  There were no seedpods on these vines, but their color announced their presence immediately.  Again, I removed these plants with some difficulty, sorry that I could not extricate the entire root system, but it was very sturdy and deeply buried.

These are the vines I removed from the second and third plants I found.  The first vine was already confined to the trash bag, including the seeds.  Let's hope we have at least discouraged its growth here where it doesn't belong.

My task completed, I was better able to enjoy my surroundings, delighting as the late-day sun broke through thick clouds and spread a golden light across the landscape.  Sounding their haunting calls, several skeins of Canada Geese came flying in at intervals, landing on the open water of the marsh to take their rest for the night.

Walking back to my car, I noticed many beautiful accents of color among the dull gray shrubbery.  See how rosy the pedicels of this Panicled Dogwood remain, even after the shrub has dropped its porcelain-white berries and burgundy leaves.

The seed pods of Canada Lily reveal nothing of the flower's glowing color, but I love the tiny stitches holding the parts of the pod together.  When in bloom, this lily dangles its flowers like bells, but as it goes to seed it turns the pods erect.

This rain-darkened tree trunk glowed emerald green from its coating of mosses and lichens.

And here was a rotting stump transformed into a thing of beauty by tufts of fluffy green moss and a sprinkling of the tiny vivid-yellow fungus called Lemon Drops.

More fungi, more subtle in color but no less lovely, these multi-striped layers of Turkey Tail decorated a truncated tree trunk.


catharus said...

Kudos to you for going after the foreign invader! I guess the greater question is to what extent has it already colonized...and how can it effectively be held off.
In my neck of the woods, garlic mustard has been a disaster!

The Furry Gnome said...

We have a lot of enthusiastic volunteers in our local trail club who show up to pull Garlic Mustard and Buckthorn. And we're seeing progress - but it's a long term project.