St. Michael’s Farm Preserve – Springing ahead of the pack – invasive plants

St. Michaels Farm Preserve is located in Hopewell township, with entrances on Rt. 569 and Aunt Molly Road.

Link to NJ trail map and description

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Hairy Bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta, an invasive species that is one of the first spring weeds to pop up.  They have been exploding in my garden and as soon as I pull one out, it seems that another fills its place.  As I was reading up on this lovely plant, I found a wonderful article about it at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden website.  I highly suggest heading over there and reading it!

 

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Two invasive plants fighting for sunlight.  The green-stemmed plant with the recurved thorns is Multiflora Rose, Rosa multiflora, and the vine wrapping around it is Japanese honeysuckle, Lonicera japonica.  Both of these species typically invade forest understory and edge habitats.  Multiflora rose was historically used by farmers to create a “natural fence” to keep their cattle contained.  Unfortunately, it is also very good at elbowing out other natives due to low herbivory pressure and because the seeds are bird dispersed, it allows this plant to invade over large areas.  Japanese honeysuckle is known to smother plants that it grows on by creating a canopy over the host plant, preventing them from being able to photosynthesize.

 

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Garlic mustard, Alliaria petiolata, both in its second year form and surrounded by cotyledons.  In the center of the Garlic mustard, Mugwort, Artemisia vulgaris, is coming through.  Garlic mustard can be found in both shaded and full sun habitats, while Mugwort is more typically found in full sun but can also live in shaded areas.  I have worked with both of this plants as target species on different research projects.  While they both are very pesky pesky invasive plants, I can’t help smile when I see them because it reminds me of long days in the field with my hands and knees dirty, communing with nature.

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