Archive for February, 2013

JAPANESE ANGELICA TREE ERADICATION FROM MORRIS PARK, 2013

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

What has become a tradition, every February, on the week of Presidents Day, The Philadelphia Parks and Rec staff and the volunteers of the Sanguine Root collaborate on a very focused task of eradicating the invasive Japanese Angelica tree from Morris Park. All year long, us volunteers pluck the tiny seedlings and saplings from the soil, numbering in the thousands. It is an ongoing effort to deplete the seedbank which has been replenished year after year by flowering and fruiting mature specimens that create complex and intensive root systems. These mature specimens require herbicide as a control, even as we remove as much as we can by hand -pulling, there is still that bigger problem.

This species is aggressively appropriating habitat all across Philadelphia at an alarming rate. If an area of forest experiences canopy failure from the results of other invasives, the Angelica tree is one of the first on the scene.  In forests where oak trees would normally drop their acorns and grow new trees, and a wide variety of shrubs would grow, now grows this monoculture of invasive trees, shading out all of the indigenous forest understory shrubs and herbaceous plants, and most disturbingly, the young trees, the saplings and seedlings are missing entirely under the darkness of this invasive Asian tree. The future of the forests of Fairmount Park are being threatened by this species.

It has become an effort to save the  urban forest, because every effort to help young trees germinate and grow is worthwhile, and this is an obvious one considering the proliferation of this noxious species throughout the Parks of Philadelphia.

sabelle removes Burning Bush with weed wrench

Isabelle removes Burning Bush with weed wrench

Several years ago, we were tasked by the City of Philadelphia Parks and Rec to map out the populations of the Japanese Angelica tree (Aralia elata) so we could then use the map to determine a course of action for their eradication.  Using the map we created, we were then able to create a strategic plan of eradication sites, which we have been doing since 2011.

We have a pretty good knowledge of all the populations in Morris Park, and we acted as guides for our staff partners at Parks and Rec, who are equipped with Garlon 4  ultra herbicide, loaded in tanks they carry on their backs.  We showed them the infestations of mature, flowering specimens and stayed out of the way , removing another invasive, the Burning bush (euonymous alatus) with a Parks and Rec supplied weed wrench as they sprayed the Japanese Angelica trees with a basal bark herbicide application.

leave the area as if there was never a problem in the first place

leave the area as if there was never a problem in the first place

Our Burning Bush removal operation proceeds as follows: we pull out the bush and leave it on site, roots out of the ground where it will die in a few weeks and decompose back into the earth within five years. The disturbance from pulling the bush out of the soil becomes the next issue of concern. We sometimes find other plants attached to the extricated shrub, such as Mayapple and on this day we found the Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica) an ephemeral Spring flower that grows out of a corm.

Pictured above,  Sanguine Root volunteer Sean Solomon has just replanted roots of Spring Beauty and Mayapple that were uprooted along with the invasive shrub, Burning Bush. The soil is put back and the leaf cover is replaced as if there was never a problem.

Our annual Japanese Angelica Tree workday

Our annual Japanese Angelica Tree removala workday

Hopefully our efforts at removing these invasive shrubs  will result in the germination and sprouting of native canopy trees. We have had success with this phenomenon occurring in several other sites in Morris Park where we have removed invasives.

 Our annual Japanese Angelica Tree removal workday

Our annual Japanese Angelica Tree removal workday

Above is an infestation of the invasive Burning Bush. Underneath the large stems were hundreds of seedlings that we pulled out by hand. The largest stem was then cut and Parks and Rec environmental technician Luke Rhodes carefully applied herbicide on the cut stump.

Euonymus alatus

Euonymus alatus

Above, the stems and corky wings of the Burning Bush.
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Above, these are the specimens of the native spring wildflower Claytonia virginica, the Spring Beauty, we  found in the uprooted Burning bush.

Our annual Japanese Angelica Tree removal workday

Our annual Japanese Angelica Tree removal workday

Luke applies a basal bark application of herbicide to the Japanese Angelica tree.

Our annual Japanese Angelica Tree removal workday

Our annual Japanese Angelica Tree removal workday

A Black-Haw Viburnum shrub was discovered in our work area. Finding this native shrub was an exciting moment in our day.

Our annual Japanese Angelica Tree removal workday

Our annual Japanese Angelica Tree removal workday

Sanguine Root Volunteer Isabelle Dijols cuts the noxious invasive Japanese Honeysuckle off of the young trees.

Our annual Japanese Angelica Tree removal workday

Our annual Japanese Angelica Tree removal workday

Above, the  invasive Japanese Angelica Tree, in the foreground. For a great introductory essay on this subject with references, please see our post The Japanese Angelica Tree Rapidly Invades Morris Park.  Click here For photos of  blooming flowers and a photographic guide describing the botanical differences between the North American native Devils Walking Stick (Aralia spinosa) and the Japanese Angelica tree.

Our annual Japanese Angelica Tree removal workday

Our annual Japanese Angelica Tree removal workday

Luke, Rhodes, Isabelle Dijols, and Tom Dougherty, and below with Sean Solomon, Isabelle and Tom.

Going out and removing invasives is a great way to get exercise and be outdoors all the while accomplishing something of great environmental value and community service!

Our annual Japanese Angelica Tree removal workday

Our annual Japanese Angelica Tree removal workday

THE HARDWOOD BOTTOMLANDS OF THE LOWER SUWANNEE RIVER, FLORIDA

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

THE LOWER SUWANNEE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE

Just as our plane was scheduled to take off from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on a cold late January evening, a front moved in bringing a squall of snow to the region. Immediately, departure times were pushed back, and the de-icing of planes began. Our plane’s wing had icicles hanging off it when we boarded. The runway had to be cleared and the wind was blowing cold arctic air down from the north.  Eventually we did manage to take off into the oily darkness heading due south, as fast as reasonably possible. We flew over Baltimore and D.C., and then eventually we could see the lights of Savannah Georgia and then Jacksonville Florida as we descended towards our destination of Tampa, Florida. The night sky opened up to the land as we neared Orlando, and then suddenly the full Moon made its appearance, not from the sky but from earth below!

The brightly lit image of the entire full moon was flashing every few seconds, each time we passed over one of the many circular, central Florida lakes.  It was as if the Moon was jumping from lake to lake to lake!

What a grand entrance we made into the state of Florida!

 

Carolina Jasmine

Carolina Jasmine

Gelsemium sempervirens

Several hours drive north of Tampa brings us to one of the most remote parts of Florida. A beautiful place to suddenly be! Green, warm, sunny and with blooming flowers! This is a disorienting experience (without the Jet lag), to go from the frigid winter of the Northeast to a quiet early Spring in this Hardwood Bottomland Forest along The Suwannee River.   This Native blooming twining vine, the Carolina Jasmine, was growing all along the sides of the highways and in openings in the forests. The yellow blooming flowers of the fragrant Gelsemium sempervirens, growing along the path that led us towards the  Hardwood Bottomlands created an enchanting springtime mood for our walk.

Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge

Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge

Here is the Forest!

Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge

Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge

This is the mud turtle we met up with.

Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge

Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge

Bluets, blooming away.

IMG_8497This was blooming next to the Bluets. Anyone know what it is? (Note the thin single stem and the compact rosette with a light green outline of the leaves.)

IMG_8500A Red Maple, already having bloomed, is laden with its red samaras, floating in this scene among the Bald Cypress.

Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge

Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge

 

IMG_8509Sugarberry, bark and trunk (Celtis laevigata)   This tree is similar to Hackberry, but it grows in floodplains, whereas Hackberry is more commonly associated with Upland sites.

Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge

Here is a great view of the Bottomland Forest with the Suwannee in the backround.

Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge

Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge

This, a drier site, near the road that led in to the forest.

IMG_8523Somebody tossed a beer can into the forest and of course we had to remove it.

IMG_8526

Driving for miles and miles through these forests on the way to Cedar Key, where we stayed, we passed blooming redbuds, many a blooming patch of Carolina Jasmine, Red Maples and stands of Bald Cypress. Turkey Vultures often swooped overhead.

One balmy evening we took a walk in the bright  Florida moonlight.