Personal background What are we here to learn? What is DCNR… what we do What are invasive species – some examples Why should you care about them What can you do to stop them
In 1995, then Governor Tom Ridge separated the old Department of Environmental Resources into two agencies: DCNR, and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). DER, as a distinct agency, no longer exists. DCNR is charged with maintaining and preserving the 120 state parks; managing the 2.1 million acres of state forest land; providing information on the state's ecological and geologic resources; and establishing community conservation partnerships with grants and technical assistance to benefit rivers, trails, greenways, local parks and recreation, regional heritage parks, open space and natural areas. DEP, on the other hand, is more of the regulatory agency. They are in charge of issuing permits for industry, cracking down on polluters, and protecting the environment. Both DEP and DCNR’s main headquarters are in downtown Harrisburg, but both have offices throughout the state.
Non-native to the environment in question… could be from southern PA but invasive in the north, or from another state or country. Not all non-natives are invasive, though. Examples: zebra mussels clog water intake pipes at electricity generation facilities, causing them to shut down, resulting in profit and power loss many invasive plants chase out native plants; for instance, kudzu vine completely smothers everything in its way giant hogweed sap causes dermatitis: blistering and extreme sensitivity to sunlight that can remain indefinitely DCNR uses this definition too
Invasives love bare dirt and excess fertilizer. Disturbance is the best friend of invasive plants Mile-a-minute and kudzu can grow up to a foot a day! Purple loosestrife can produce over a million seeds per plant! Many others create hundreds of thousands Sunny or shady, dry or wet, acidic or basic: these plants aren’t usually picky about where they will grow. Very common along roads and train tracks for that very reason At a minimum, most invasive seeds survive 3-5 years but some may last up to 20 years, like multiflora rose.
Japanese stilt grass and garlic mustard seeds are very easily spread via hikers’ boots Oriental bittersweet, mile-a-minute, honeysuckles, autumn olive: all have seeds that wildlife will eat, but they don’t provide the required nutrients that native seeds do. People releasing bait and pets into wild like european starlings in central park, insects hitching a ride on firewood, seeds in packing material like stilt grass; Erosion control, like this japanese knotweed; living fence like multiflora rose; landscaping like barberry and butterfly bush Mam seeds can stay buoyant in water for up to 9 days. Tree of heaven has papery winged samaras that can be blown about by the wind.
Sprawl is the #1 threat to our native plants and animals. Invasives are the #2 threat. Our native animals have adapted to eating native plants. When invasives come in, the natives lose their sources of food and must move elsewhere. MAM can block trails, making it difficult to hike; hydrilla can wrap around boat propellers; water chestnut has spiky seed pods that make swimming hazardous. Plants like tree of heaven and garlic mustard change the soil (allelopathy) so that natives cannot grow. They secrete a Round-up like substance into the soil through their roots Example: US estimates invasives cost $127 billion a year in damages. It cost DCNR $100,000 to hire a contractor to spray 200 acres of mile-a-minute at Sinnemahoning SP!!
Going to talk about some plants still in the trade that many consider to be invasive, and some of their native alternatives.
Introduced asian landscape plant in 1860. Very common in commercial and private landscaping Will form dense thickets in natural woodlands, like above picture from Buchanan SF, by producing many seeds/seedlings. 5-20 ft tall, winged corky stems, branches lay in unique way (very horizontal). Seen in degraded habitats and in abandoned properties.
Viginia sweetspire – leaves turn bright red in fall, just like burning bush Highbush blueberry – also has red fall foliage and high wildlife value (and humans can eat it too!!) Other alternatives include: red chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia), silky dogwood (Cornus amomum) and mapleleaf viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium)
Japanese plant introduced as ornamental in 1875. Creates very dense thickets like at the campground of Hickory Run SP, see photo above. Very common in shady forests, abandoned home sites, etc. Grows 2-8 feet tall, spines along stem, tiny oval leaves that are green to purple, Green berries turn red in fall. Spread by wildlife.
Spicebush – fruits are edible by wildlife, nice fall color (yellow), grows 6-12 feet tall Inkberry – fruits eaten by wildlife, 8-20 feet tall, long-lived Other alternatives include northern bayberry (Myrica pennsylvanica)
Asian introduced ornamental plant commonly used to attract butterflies. More than 100 species worldwide, with many new cultivars being developed. Buddleja davidii (the purple variety) is considered to be the most invasive. Frequently colonizes disturbed areas like along trails (see above along Hbg greenway) and brownfields like the Palmerton smelter in Hellertown.
Butterfly milkweed – 2 feet tall, bright orange flowers, food for caterpillars and butterflies Sweet pepperbush (also called summersweet) – 3 to 10 feet, white flowers in summer with sweet-spicy fragrance, yellow color in fall Bee balm (wild variety also called wild bergamot) – up to 4 feet tall, variable flower colors in summer, also attracts hummingbirds and bees ( help our pollinators !!!) Other alternatives – blazing star (Liatris spicata) and New York ironweed (Veronia noveboracensis)
Introduced landscape tree from Europe. Produces numerous seeds/seedlings. Mature trees shade out native plants so little can grow underneath. 90 feet tall, ridged bark, dark-green hand-shaped leaves with milky sap, winged samaras appear in summer. Turns yellow in fall.
Red maple (also called scarlet and swamp maple) – prefers wet soils, grows to 60 or 90 feet tall, short to medium-lived, red fall color Sugar maple- 90 to 120 feet tall, slow grower, prefers colder habitat so climate change could impact it, provides sap for maple sugar, yellow-orange-or red in fall Other alternatives: Sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua), Black gum (Nyssa sylvatica), Willow oak (Quercus phellos) etc.
Photos of Princess tree (pawlonia) and shrub honeysuckle (probably amur’s) 7 different kinds of shrub honeysuckles… mostly tartarian, morrow’s, and amur’s though 4 different kinds of privets: border, chinese, european, and japanese
Vine alternatives include: trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans), pipevine (Aristolochia macrophylla), and virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) Silver grass = miscanthus. Talk about debate over invasiveness and different cultivars Alternative herbaceous plants include: warm season grasses, Joe pye weed (Eupatorium fistulosum), blue vervain (Verbena hastata), cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), etc.
To find local nurseries, go to www.iconservepa.org or Bowman’s Hill – www.bhwp.org
If you’re unsure of which native plants to use, here’s a great tool…
We could talk about invasive control for hours, maybe days, but here’s a very quick overview. There are many different control methods, and what you use will depend on what plant you’re trying to control, the location (near water or other sensitive habitat?), money available, etc. Mechanical includes handpulling, using a tool like the Weed Wrench (shown above), cutting down with an axe, or using a machine like the Fecon (shown above) that will cut and chop trees with a dbh of 4-8”. Chemical control includes the hack and squirt method (as shown above), basal bark, foliar application, soil injections, pre-emergents, etc. A wide variety of herbicides that can be used. Sometimes chemical control must be used, like in the case of treating tree-of-heaven. If you just pull or cut these, they will grow even more densely. Biocontrol involves finding pests in the plant’s natural range and bringing them here to control the invasives. Rigorous testing by the USDA APHIS takes place before they are released into the wild. Biocontrol includes the galerucella beetle for purple loosestrife, a weevil (see above) that is being looked into for mile-a-minute, and BT on gypsy moths (Bacillus thuringensis), which is a bacterium. When controlling invasives you can use the principles of integrated pest/vegetation management to control your problems in an environmentally-friendly manner.
One-stop shopping for control, ID, and prevention information on over 60 invasive plants
When you’re working in the field on controlling invasives you should replace them with native plants. Otherwise more invasives will fill the bare dirt spots. Restoration and control go hand in hand.
DCNR and SRTA working on this. May move them from Wildwood or some Game Commission islands upstream Will need volunteers next year to help transport beetles and monitor loosestrife populations
PA Invasive Plants and AlterNATIVES
Invaders From the Plant World Jessica Sprajcar Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Office of Conservation Science
DCNR – who we are Our Mission : To manage state parks and forests; to provide information on PA's ecological resources; and to administer grant programs for recreation and natural resource protection.
What is an invasive species? <ul><li>The federal government defines an invasive species as: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Non-native </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Causes or is likely to cause harm to the economy, environment, or human health. </li></ul></ul>
What makes them invasive? <ul><li>Opportunistic, </li></ul><ul><li>Fast growing, </li></ul><ul><li>Reproduce abundantly, </li></ul><ul><li>Tolerate wide range of conditions, </li></ul><ul><li>Seeds can remain viable in the soil for years. </li></ul>Mile-a-minute ( Polygonum perfoliatum ) Jessica Sprajcar-DCNR
How do invasives spread? <ul><li>Seeds stick to clothing, fur, vehicles </li></ul><ul><li>Animals eat seed </li></ul><ul><li>Accidental or deliberate release </li></ul><ul><li>Moved by water and wind </li></ul>Japanese knotweed ( Fallopia japonica ) Josh VanBrakle
Why are invasives bad? <ul><li>Lower species diversity </li></ul><ul><li>Disrupt recreational activities </li></ul><ul><li>Change soil chemistry </li></ul><ul><li>Cost billions of dollars to control </li></ul>Garlic mustard ( Alliaria petiolata ) Jessica Sprajcar-DCNR
Invasives in the Landscaping Trade and their AlterNATIVES James Miller - USDA Forest & Kim Starr - USGS Pat Pingel - DCNR Jessica Sprajcar-DCNR Jessica Sprajcar-DCNR
Burning bush ( Euonymus alata ) INVASIVE! James Miller - USDA PA Bureau of Forestry
Native shrub alternatives Virginia sweetspire ( Itea virginica ) Highbush blueberry ( Vaccinium corymbosum ) Charles Bryson-USDA Chris Evans - UGA
Japanese barberry ( Berberis Thunbergii ) INVASIVE! Jessica Sprajcar-DCNR Hickory Run State Park
Restoration Considerations <ul><li>Before removing an invasive, decide what to replace it with </li></ul><ul><li>Know which native plants belong in an area & know the site </li></ul><ul><li>Design the restoration (timing, implementation, evaluation) </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluate and adapt </li></ul>
Get Involved <ul><li>Summer 2009, surveyed for purple loosestrife ( Lythrum salicaria ) and Galerucella beetles </li></ul><ul><li>Summer 2010, will move beetles to Susquehanna River islands </li></ul>Eric Coombs – OR Dept. Ag. www.bugwood.org
Remember: Preventing an Invasive Species from establishing in the first place is preferable to controlling it once there is a population in an area. Control is expensive, time consuming, and not necessarily guaranteed to work! Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy