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Monday, March 31, 2014

Spring Time Invasive Window

Garlic Mustard First year leaf
Typically there is a golden window of opportunity for spring time invasive plant management, but this year, the slow cool start to spring has drastically reduced the window for being able to control invasive plants while not harming any native plants. This year the invasive Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) and Lesser Celandine (Ranunculus ficaria) are leafing out at the same time as the native spring ephemerals: Spring Beauty and Trout Lily.  This means that control efforts must be much more localized in order to prevent any residual effects on our native plants.

Garlic Mustard Second year with flower
Garlic Mustard is most easily controlled by pulling it up from the roots, and either laying the plant on a heavily traveled trail (the foot traffic will prevent it from re-sprouting), placing it on a nearby rock, or taking the younger garlic mustard leaves home to make pesto.  Click HERE for the recipe.  This plant is a bi-annual, the first year it will only produce leaves and the second year it produces seeds before it dies back.  The best way to prevent spread of this plant is by pulling it before it produces the seeds.

Lesser Celandine Flower and Tubers
Lesser Celandine has a pretty yellow flower and spreads usually through rain events.  With all of the heavy rains of late, this plant is happily spreading downstream leaving a pretty but unhealthy monoculture of yellow flowers in its path.  The plant has numerous tubers, and if you decide to hand pull this plant, you must remove all of the bits of tubers or it will continue to grow.  This is a very difficult and tedious control method for large populations. The other way to control this plant but not harming any surrounding plants is to individually plant each leaf with an aquatic approved non-dilute solution of glyphosate herbicide.  If you have a blanket of celandine as shown in the photo--this can be a daunting task, but one that will be rewarded when you end up with a blanket of native spring ephemerals instead!  If you live along a creek, it is important to collaborate with your neighbors.  Celebrate Earth Month in April by having a celandine work party.  I am not sure if this plant is edible, let us know if you come up with a recipe. 
Lesser Celandine Monoculture

If you are interested in learning more about invasive tips for your property, schedule a Landscape Visionaries session.  We'll come out to your property and talk about all of the ways that you can control invasive plants.

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