Archive for the ‘Aralia elata -Japanese Angelica tree’ Category

THE JAPANESE ANGELICA TREE

Sunday, August 19th, 2012
Japanese Angelica Tree, Aralia elata,Wissahickon Valley Park ,  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Japanese Angelica Tree, Aralia elata,Wissahickon Valley Park , Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

This tree is found throughout Philadelphia, in Fairmount Park, in alleys and neighborhoods. It has a silvery thorny trunk and  produces a striking crown of white to pink flowers in August.  The most dense stands can be found in The Wissahickon Valley Park, but it is also found in abundance in West Fairmount Park, in such locations as the Horticultural Center and along Chamounix  Drive.  In Morris Park it is spreading rapidly, where multiple stands of seed producing specimens have been identified.

The Japanese Angelica Tree is an emerging invasive in the region, and where it has become established there has been a drastic change and disruption to the natural environment. This tree creates a canopy of shade so dense and a root system so interconnected that native trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants are left to die in the wake of this aggressive alien species.  With the loss of these plants, which have grown here for thousands and millions of years, is a loss of a complex web of habitat that sustains the life of the forest.  The insects whose patterns of sustenance, such as food and reproduction, are species-specifically dependent, lose their habitat and become locally extirpated with each infestation of the Japanese Angelica Tree. Birds that need insects for survival, will also be displaced as there is no food. When a species has evolved over the millions of years, it does so in a system of species and interactions, often with multiple variables.  When an introduced species comes into a system, it has the potential to radically change the variables of the system.  For example, the Japanese Angelica Tree has the ability to block sunlight, which is one variable to a natural system that has an immense effect. It is like a dark cloud that moves over a community of plants, an invading force, permanently shading the area through the entire growing season, and on top of that running a dense network of roots all through the soil that absorbs the moisture and nutrients that will no longer be available to the original community of plants. This is enough to kill off many species of plants and their species-specific insect dependents, and this amounts to localized extirpation, the elimination of a species from its host habitat.

There is nothing to stop these invasions. Acre after acre of Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park system has fallen victim to this species.

This is where our story begins.

Japanese Angelica Tree, Aralia elata, Wissahickon Valley Park ,  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Japanese Angelica Tree, Aralia elata, Wissahickon Valley Park , Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Take a walk through the Wissahickon Valley Park and the Japanese Angelica Tree is everywhere. In the late summer, the white inflorescence  crests the landscape and the spiny trunks line the trails.

Making matters more confusing is that there is a native tree that is very similar to the Japanese Angelica Tree (Aralia elata), called the Devils Walking Stick (Aralia spinosa), which does not grow in the Philadelphia region, but does grow naturally in Western Pennsylvania as well as parts of New Jersey, Delaware and much of the Eastern U.S.

The two species are related. The native one, in its natural range, is part of the natural system, while the exotic one has become a noxious pest.

For a while we thought the Japanese Angelica Tree was the native Devil’s Walking Stick. What we did not know was that even if it was the native tree, we were not in the natural range for the American Arialia spinosa. So even if it was the native Devils walking stick, it would still be out of its range in Philadelphia and therefore out of place.   We have learned that even ‘native’ plants still have this range, which varies throughout the country plant by plant, and if the plant is outside its historical, evolutionary range, than it is an alien.

We do not know what to expect from aliens. Usually it is something bad or out of the usual order. With plants, this is the case for many specimens that are introduced from other regions. They can take over and create problems. Insects such as the Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica) and now the stinkbug (Halyomorpha halys) are prime examples of alien species.

When examining native range maps of the many indigenous North American Plant species, as presented by the U.S. Geological Survey, there is to be found an intriguing world of plant species and their localized areas. The United States is divided up into a complex and entirely different world than what we generally perceive it to be; there is an astounding geographic dimension to the U.S. that  encompasses thousands of species, with real borders, completely different than those of states, counties and provinces. It is as if there are whole worlds of speciation and  delineation that we are for the most part completely unaware of!

We had no idea that in the Middle of Pennslvania there is a line where the native Devil’s Walking Stick’s range comes to a natural end.  And between this borderline and the infestations of the Devil’s Walking Stick’s genetic relative, The Japanese Angelica Tree in Morris Park is where our adventure starts out.

Japanese Angelica Tree, Aralia elata,Wissahickon Valley Park ,  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Japanese Angelica Tree, Aralia elata,Wissahickon Valley Park , Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

We had always admired the binnately compound leaf of the Japanese Angelica tree, as illustrated above. What is pictured is one leaf, composed of a series of branches holding leaflets, in sets of two along each branch.

The Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Staff, technician Luke Rhodes and Land Steward Thomas Dougherty alerted us to the designation of the species, the invasive Aralia elata, the Japanese Angelica Tree. After double checking this information out, our next question was what can we do about it?  We tried to chop them down, but the extensive root systems would send up new shoots.

Tom And Luke of Fairmount Park saw that Isabelle and I were serious about trying to eradicate this invasive, and we formed a partnership, and the eradication process had begun.  The Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Staff tasked us volunteers with mapping the infestations and identifying target areas for eradication.  We chose sites that were the closest to forest areas that had the least invasives and the highest diversity of native flora.  Tom and Luke then applied the herbicide Garlon 4 ultra with a green dye ( to help identify applied specimens) in a basal bark application to the mature seed-producing specimens in a first pass attempt at eradication.

Japanese Angelica Tree, Aralia elata, Morris Park ,  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Japanese Angelica Tree, Aralia elata, Morris Park , Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The process started: The mature specimens were treated with herbicide in the late winter, and they died by May or June. Above, the herbicide is applied around the bark at the base of the tree leading to the technical jargon basal bark herbicide application.

Japanese Angelica Tree, Aralia elata, Morris Park ,  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Japanese Angelica Tree, Aralia elata, Morris Park , Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tom and Luke take a quick break. Luke is resting on a weed wrench, a tool that we volunteers were using to remove another invasive, the Burning Bush, the euonymus alatus.

Japanese Angelica Tree, Aralia elata, Morris Park ,  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Japanese Angelica Tree, Aralia elata, Morris Park , Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Isabelle cracked a good joke to get us all to smile: From left: Jason Puglionesi, Sean Solomon, Luke Rhodes, Tom Dougherty.

Japanese Angelica Tree, Aralia elata, Morris Park ,  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Japanese Angelica Tree, Aralia elata, Morris Park , Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Fast forward to late Spring 2012, and the treated specimens have leafed out, only to begin dying off soon after.

Japanese Angelica Tree, Aralia elata, Morris Park ,  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Japanese Angelica Tree, Aralia elata, Morris Park , Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

By summer, the trees are completely dead.

Japanese Angelica Tree, Aralia elata, Morris Park ,  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Japanese Angelica Tree, Aralia elata, Morris Park , Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

This is last year’s batch, treated in February of 2011, they are apparitions at this point, the whole stand has been crashing to the ground one by one.

Japanese Angelica Tree, Aralia elata, Wissahickon Valley  Park ,  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Japanese Angelica Tree, Aralia elata, Wissahickon Valley Park , Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Here is a closer look at the fruits of the Angelica Tree, found in early August on a dense stand in The Wissahickon, in the Creshiem Valley section. Each tree produces hundreds of seeds on display in multiple circular clusters. The ripe seeds attract birds, who end up helping the plant spread its range rapidly. The irony is that while the birds get instant gratification from the berries, their spread is actually destroying habitats of other plants the birds depend on in the long term.

Japanese Angelica Tree, Aralia elata, Wissahickon Valley  Park ,  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Japanese Angelica Tree, Aralia elata, Wissahickon Valley Park , Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Here is a seedling right next to our house, in an area where there had been no mature seed-producing specimens in the immediate vicinity. The seedlings number in the hundreds, and we have to hand pull each and every one. This seedling can grow up to three feet tall in one growing season.  In the areas where the seed-producing mature specimens have been eradicated, the now sunlit forest floor has erupted in a mass of seedlings so dense they number in the thousands. Many native plants and trees are among this startling infestation of noxious weeds, which necessitates hand pulling.

A daunting task to initiate!

 

Japanese Angelica Tree, Aralia elata, Morris  Park ,  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Japanese Angelica Tree, Aralia elata, Morris Park , Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Meet the Friends of Haverford Trails- they are a neighboring Park Friends group working on an area that is part of the Cobbs Creek watershed. They came out to visit our site in July and were glad to lend a helping hand with our Aralia elata problem.

From left after Isabelle: Barry Pinheiro, Frances Heron, Joe Walker, Jane Horwitz, Roy Sandstrom and Peter Puglionesi.

We were able to pull a whole infestation of seedlings in a half hour! We spent the rest of the time touring the site and talking about native plants and trees as well as our volunteer projects.

We use thick gloves with those spiny stems.  The pulled specimens are scattered about the site, where they will die and return to organic matter, hopefully to be used by a native plant of local provenance.

Japanese Angelica Tree, Aralia elata, Morris  Park ,  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Japanese Angelica Tree, Aralia elata, Morris Park , Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

We discovered Jack-in- The Pulpit, Joe-Pye-Weed, White oak seedlings, Sassafrass and Dogwood in the area we worked on.

 

Japanese Angelica Tree, Aralia elata, Eradication initiation, Morris Park ,  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Mass of Seedlings.

Japanese Angelica Tree, Aralia elata, Eradication initiation, Morris Park ,  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Japanese Angelica Tree, Aralia elata, Eradication initiation, Morris Park , Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Our friend Jason whom you have met from our Garlic Mustard adventures of 2012,  and his friend Skylar came out on August 2nd to help out as well, and we pulled seedlings for a short afternoon. We also pulled the invasive Japanese Stiltgrass along the trails. Skylar is holding a red Hickory leaf. Just the slightest hint of Fall in the air, eh?

Japanese Angelica Tree, Aralia elata,Wissahickon Valley Park ,  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Japanese Angelica Tree, Aralia elata,Wissahickon Valley Park , Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Last but not least, is a site of great interest in Fairmount Park, this is just a few yards north of Mom Rinker’s Rock, where the Toleration Statue is located.  Besides the lovely views and colorful history, this is a site of huge importance to us because growing there is the native shrub Hearts-A-bustin’, the Strawberry bush, the Euonymus americana, a beautiful and elegant shrub that has been passed over by the horticultural industry  in favor of the previously mentioned Burning bush, the invasive and noxious introduced but closely related shrub, Euonymus alatus, which has infested many areas of the Wissahickon as well as Morris Park. In fact the Euonymus alatus is found growing side by side with the native Euonymus americana, the Hearts-a-Bustin’.

Even more disturbing is that the Hearts-a-Bustin’ is being encroached upon by an infestation of  an aggressive  stand of the Japanese Angelica Tree!  In all of our adventures through the Fairmount Park System, we have never seen the Hearts-a-Bustin’, except at this one unusual site, and yet this special area is threatened by this same invasive as found throughout the park. A few good workdays the way we have been doing it could really help out this little place, where do we sign up?

Lessons learned: Nothing is as easy as we think it might be. Cannot underestimate a loaded seedbank.

While Humans have certainly created many conditions that are leading to environmental disfunction, habitat loss and species extirpation and extinction, there are some things we can do, and have fun doing them.

Traveling to nearby areas helps one learn more about your own area. In fact traveling and exploring is a great educational experience, and you will bring home a great perspective and knowledge.

A species outside its natural range has the potential to be a dangerous species: when considering plants it is all about the location, the provenance. A species will do everything it can to propagate, as it is programmed to do. When outside of its evolutionary system, it can become an unchecked variable, creating disorder to habitats that are not in any way evolved to absorb such a disturbance, requiring us humans to make ourselves useful and intervene.

Isabelle Dijols with a blooming Japanese Angelica Tree, Wissahickon Valley Park at Lincoln Drive, August 26th 2012

Isabelle Dijols with a blooming Japanese Angelica Tree, Wissahickon Valley Park at Lincoln Drive, August 26th 2012

JAPANESE ANGELICA TREE BLOOMS IN FAIRMOUNT PARK, PHILADELPHIA

Monday, September 12th, 2011

THE JAPANESE ANGELICA TREE THREATENS THE FORESTS OF FAIRMOUNT PARK AND BEYOND. THIS IS A NOXIOUS INVASIVE WEED THAT CAN DO SERIOUS DAMAGE TO YOUR NATURAL AREA IN A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME. IT WILL RE-SEED ITSELF AGGRESSIVELY AND PROPAGATE WITH NUMEROUS SUCKERING ROOTS.  THE UNDERSTORY NATIVE VEGETATION OF YOUR NATURAL FOREST WILL BE SEVERELY COMPROMISED OR ELIMINATED.  THIS AGGRESSIVE  INVADER MUST BE IDENTIFIED AND CONTROLLED

Aralia elata

Japanese Angelica Tree Blooms . Aralia elata,  Horticultural center grounds, West Fairmount Park, Philadelphia

Japanese Angelica Tree Blooms . Aralia elata, Horticultural center grounds, West Fairmount Park, Philadelphia

This post is a companion piece to our groundbreaking and controversial post The Japanese Angelica Tree Rapidly Invades Morris Park .   This is a tree that has spines all the way up its trunk and is a familiar sight in the Wissahickon Valley Park, West Fairmount Park and increasingly in The Cobbs Creek Watershed.

For many years this plant was considered to be a native.  There is a native plant very closely related that grows in another part of the state, and is not in this range. We have obtained photographs of this similar plant so we can show the differences and clear up any confusion about the native to America one and the invasive in Philadelphia one.   The picture above  and below show the flower of the invasive Japanese Angelica Tree which is often confused with a plant commonly called the Devils Walking Stick or Hercules club (Aralia spinosa), the native one that naturally grows in the western portion of Pennsylvania.  The differences in the structural characteristics of the flower is what is most distinguishing between the two very similar species.   The flowering structure of the invasive introduced Japanese Angelica Tree has a series of stems that radiate from a singular point, like a burst, such as fireworks for example.  At the end of the post we will show you the native Spinosa, which has a flower with a single central stalk, where the stems come off all the way along, up to the top, more like an oak tree.  This, believe it or not is the single most distinguishing characteristic that separates the two species. August through early September is the time to view this flowering structure.

Aralia elata, The Japanese Angelica Tree, Fairmount Park. Philadelphia

Aralia elata, The Japanese Angelica Tree, Fairmount Park. Philadelphia

Above, The Japanese Angelica tree with its ‘fireworks’ flower habit, with multiple stems radiating from a single point.

The leaf of the Japanese Angelica tree is  bi-pinnately compound, with spikes at the axis along the central stem.  This plant is interesting to look at.

Aralia elata, The Japanese Angelica Tree, Fairmount Park. Philadelphia

Aralia elata, The Japanese Angelica Tree, Fairmount Park. Philadelphia

Below is a compromised picture of the seedling taken under extreme conditions.  The young shoots are considered a delicacy in Japan and they are sauteed and eaten! One of these days, perhaps it should be tried out here.

Aralia elata, The Japanese Angelica Tree, Fairmount Park. Philadelphia

Aralia elata, The Japanese Angelica Tree, Fairmount Park. Philadelphia

Below is a very clear picture of the flower of the invasive Japanese Angelica tree, where all of the stalks originate from a singular point. If you see an Aralia in your natural area, and it looks like this, start questioning its provenance.

Aralia elata, The Japanese Angelica Tree, Fairmount Park. Philadelphia

Aralia elata, The Japanese Angelica Tree, Fairmount Park. Philadelphia

If you walk in the Wissahickon Valley park, this is a regular mid-to late summer viewing.  Those spiny trees with the large white flowers you see everywhere are a noxious weed we would be better off without.    There are no native to Western Pennsylvania Devils Walking Stick  (Aralia spinosa) in Fairmount Park.

Aralia elata, The Japanese Angelica Tree, Wissahickon Valley, Fairmount Park. Philadelphia

Aralia elata, The Japanese Angelica Tree, Wissahickon Valley, Fairmount Park. Philadelphia

Here we show an approximate size of the seeds.  The Japanese angelica tree is smaller than the native Devils Walking Stick, measuring in about 3 mm.  The native to Western Pennsylvania Devil’s walking stick or Hercules’ Club measures in about 5 to 6 millimeters.

Aralia elata, The Japanese Angelica Tree, Wissahickon Valley, Fairmount Park. Philadelphia

Aralia elata, The Japanese Angelica Tree, Wissahickon Valley, Fairmount Park. Philadelphia

Aralia Spinosa

Hercules club, the native Aralia spinosa blooms in Tallahasee Florida, July 11, 2011

Hercules club, the native Aralia spinosa blooms in Tallahasee Florida, July 11, 2011

This tree, shown above, is native to North America, but only to certain regions. Outside of those regions, this plant is considered introduced.  Here is the flower.  Shown in the above picture is a central axis, where the flower spikes originate from all the way up the main spine.

It is interesting how two separate species, so closely related, behave so differently!  One has been growing on this continent in certain areas for thousands of years and the other was growing on a different continent for thousands of years.  When one was brought over just over 100 years ago and planted, it has thrived and become problematic.  The native Aralia fits right in to its ecosystem and contributes.  The invasive one is taking over, and destroying habitat, throwing woodland areas off balance.  We do not know the full effects of this invasion.  It is still localized in the Philadelphia area, however It has been sighted along Route 1 near the Maryland border.  It is spreading rapidly, into New Jersey and LongIsland.

Native birds are eating the seeds of the invasive exotic Japanese Angelica tree.  While in the short-term, these birds may be obtaining nourishment  from  the seeds, the bigger picture most likely offers a more disturbing situation.  The birds end up spreading a species that has the potential to contribute to a  possible ecosystem collapse that could lead to the extinction of the bird species.  This ecosystem collapse could be in the form of a series of localized extirpations as the habitats are continuously compromised  by habitat loss over a series of years and events. However as time goes on, these localized extirpations where a species is eradicated from its home area permanently, will lead to widespread extirpation and possible extinction.

These are awfully strong scenerios, ecosystem collapse and extinction! What does that mean? When?  Try to imagine the effects of environmental disturbances telegraphed into the centuries and millennia ahead.   There is no saying for sure, but why take a chance?  We humans ought to consider bringing our environmental disturbances down to a minimum. We must pass on these forests to the species that will grow out of our remains.

Seeing whole sections of Fairmount Park covered with invasive weeds with hardly a native plant in sight is the extirpation of an ecosystem.  A parking lot is an extirpation.  What was there before is now gone.  The more areas extirpated around it, the more difficult it will be for it to recover.

In Philadelphia, we should be able to walk into a healthy forest and see what a Pennsylvania forest really is supposed to look like, right here in our 9000 acre Fairmount Park backyard. The Japanese angelica tree is making that pleasure even more distant.

Hercules club, the native Aralia spinosa blooms in Tallahasee Florida, July 11, 2011

Hercules club, the native Aralia spinosa blooms in Tallahasee Florida, July 11, 2011

The Aralia spinosa growing in Tallahassee Florida.  A native tree in its ecosystem.  What a beauty!

Do you have The Japanese Angelica tree in your ecosystem?  How about the Devils walking stick?  Have you ever been confused about this tree?  Do you think that “it’s all good”, and we should welcome alien plants as if they are part of some imagined grand scenario where they end up benefitting somebody or something somewhere in some unknown future time?  Or do you think that the “its all good” theory is foolish gambling, unscientific,  with no basis in observation and rationality?   What should we do with the millions of specimens of non-native Japanese Angelica Trees in Fairmount Park? What do you think used to grow in their place and how would we find out?  Do you think the tree is a harmful agent threatening the last remaining least disturbed natural areas of Fairmount Park?

From our adventures in many areas of Fairmount Park, From Chamounix Woods in West Park to the Wyndale Avenue Woods in Cobbs Creek, as well as right here in Morris Park, we believe that yes, this tree is a threat.

Please pipe up about your thoughts about this subject in our comments feature.   Have you ever grabbed onto one with your bare hands going down a steep hill in the Wissahickon?  Tell us about that experience!

 

 

THE SCHUYLKILL CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION: WELCOME TO THE SCHUYLKILL RIVER VALLEY

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

THE SANGUINE ROOT VISITED THE SCHUYLKILL CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION AND LEFT WITH A DEEPER UNDERSTANDING OF NATURE AFTER A LONG HIKE AND SOME GREAT NATIVE PLANTS PURCHASED AT THEIR NATIVE PLANT SALE.

The Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education

The Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education

We had no idea what to expect.  We came with an open mind and the native plant sale had two small trees/large shrubs we had been planning to purchase for our back alley for some time now.  These would be a Serviceberry and a Pussy Willow.  We also bought Joe-pye weed for our sunny back-yard.  We also bought one more Pinxterbloom Azalea. We examined each and every plant at the sale.  The Trillium grandiflorum, pictured above growing in the wild, was available.   We had never been to the Schuylkill Center before, and the native plant sale was our introduction.  We wanted to tour the grounds, which included a ravine that leads to the Schuylkill River.  A ravine holds promise of wildflowers and a unique environment.  The staff was very accommodating and let us store our new plants in a safe place, while we explored the property.

The Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pa

The Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pa

The center itself is located on what was farmland until the mid 1960s.  So the path down to the ravine was a lesson for us in reforestation. What we saw was a 45 year old forest.  There were whole areas, where there were no other trees but the pioneer native species Sassafrass albidum.  A few Tulip Poplars (Liriodendron tulipifera)  and Flowering Dogwood were also noted (the blooming Dogwood was very noticeable and beautiful). The shrub and herb layer was dominated by  the exotic invasives Japanese honeysuckle, Asiatic bittersweet, Garlic Mustard, Wineberry and Privet.  We also saw  the Japanese Angelica tree in an advanced state of infiltration, with mature stands.  Even with the multitude of environmental problems, there was evidence that there was a concerted effort at reforestation and invasive management.   Vines were being removed from trees in an effort to allow reforestation to restore the canopy.  Deer fencing was initiated, presumably to allow oaks, beeches and hickories a chance at creating a healthy canopy, as well as fostering a diverse woodland habitat of shrub and herbaceous species and the insects and birds that depend on them.

The Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pa

The Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pa

45 years after a farmland was purposely allowed to begin reforestation, with some help along the way. Note the flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida).

The Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pa

The Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pa

The Sassafrass trees above have been through some tough times.  With a bit of human intervention, the vines were removed and the trees were able to continue growing.  In the middle of this picture, there is visible evidence of  vines that were strangling the trees at one time.

The Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pa

The Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pa

Blooming stands of Mayapples were to be found growing alongside the Japanese Honeysuckle in the former farm fields. We also saw Jack-in-the-pulpit, Spring beauties and Wild geranium in this emerging native forest. The Schuylkill Center provides visitors with a very useful and informative pamphlet that has a map, as seen in Sean’s hand.

The Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pa

The Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pa

At one point the path dipped and the grade became noticeably steeper.  We began to enter an area that was no longer a former farm field, but a vestigial woodland, left undisturbed for the most part.  Immediately there were an abundance of ferns, False and true Solomon’s Seal, and Trillium erectum pictured above and below. We had entered a protected rich ravine of the Schuylkill River Valley.

The Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pa

The Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pa

This ravine reminded us of Shenks Ferry, along the Susquehanna River.  Here we are, in the City of Philadelphia, with Blooming stands of Trillium before us, along with an abundance of Blue phlox,Virginia Bluebells, Spring Beauties, Mayapples, Jack-in-the-pulpit, Wild geranium, and Violets.

The Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pa

The Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pa

There are vast stands of  the Spring Beauties (Claytonia virginica) along the path.

The Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pa

The Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pa

The Blue Phlox (Phlox paniculata) was at its peak, with large colonies blooming all along the gently winding ravine path. This was the first time we had ever seen such a magnificent display.

We noticed that there was not a problem with the invasive Lesser celandine (Rununculas ficaria), in this area, and we are grateful of that. An area such as this should be protected from this menacing invasive.  However, there was a problem with Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) and wineberry (Rubus phoenicolasius)  growing in the ravine, much of this side-by -side with Trillium grandiflorum, Trillium erectum and Trillium cernuum.

We thought that if this ravine was within the scope of our environmental restoration activities, we would remove the invasives from this most spectacular ravine first and foremost, with the intention to prioritize the least disturbed areas.

The Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pa

The Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pa

The Geranium maculatum, our Wild geranium is beginning to bloom.  Note the ferns in the backround.

The Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pa

The Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pa

Finding the Trillium grandiflorum blooming in the wild  was a pleasant surprise. This was the only spot we had ever seen it in the City of Philadelphia just growing on its own. Note the Bluebell at the far right of the picture.

The Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pa

The Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pa

We got the chance to see the Spicebush swallowtail butterfly (Papilio troilus).  This one stood still for us to get a picture.  What a magnificent butterfly!

For the past week, we had been trying to get a picture of a smaller white butterfly that has been flying around the Garlic Mustard in Morris Park.  However this white butterfly will not stay still long enough for us to identify and photograph it.

The Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pa

The Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pa

The Skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) has reached a mature size on this April 3oth 2011 here in Philadelphia. Sean (For size) is almost dwarfed by the grand leaves of this much admired native wetland plant.

Aralia elata, The Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pa

Aralia elata, The Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pa

Here we are, before the dreaded Aralia elata, the Japanese  Angelica tree.

If you find this tree on your property, or on land in which you are engaged in a stewardship role, we at the Sanguine Root strongly encourage you to make all efforts at eradicating this tree.  The trees are spreading at an alarming rate in our area, and we do not yet know the full effects of this emerging invasive. It can be easily confused with the native Aralia spinosa, a North American native tree that does not naturally grow in the Philadelphia region.

 The Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pa

The Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pa

The invasive Wisteria was found in a former farm field.  We are very worried about this one because it has invaded a section of Morris Park covering several acres.

The Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education was a special day for us.  We experienced the whole routine of a degraded urban forest (our daily reality), a serious effort at environmental restoration (Also a daily activity), and a magnificent forest full of native trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants that we want to protect and save.  We are so happy to have visited this great place just a few miles from Morris Park that we feel a true kinship with.

We at the Sanguine Root have  been actively visiting sites across the city and across the region, where there is work being done similar to ours. We want to be able to learn from the successes and mistakes of others, to broaden our horizon. To be able to compare and contrast is important in any milieu.  Of course we can always do better, but are there mistakes we can avoid? Is there a more efficient way to achieve our goals?  Or do we get confirmation that we are on the right track, that we are actually doing alot of the right things?

These questions are part of why we visit so many other sites in our adventure in urban environmental restoration. We learn so much from visiting other areas of Fairmount Park, or natural areas such as the Schuylkill Center.  Just seeing what plants grow where and why helps us understand why the plants that grow in Morris Park grow where they grow.