It’s National Invasive Species Awareness Week

Natural Land Institute’s land stewardship staff spend much of their time, along with volutneers and sometimes contractors, removing invasive species in woodlands, prairies and wetlands.

Zach leans against a white oak at our Kyte River Bottoms Land & Water Reserve. Notice the cleared woods behind him where invasive species have been removed. Photo: Alan Branhagen

Zach Grycan, Director of Stewardship, says, “Invasive species control is the most costly part of the stewardship process. Good invasive species control involves learning, looking, effective removal, evaluation, and understanding one’s limiting factors in performing any of these and perhaps other tasks. A major ‘aha’ moment I had when learning about invasive species was when I worked for a non-profit along the Milwaukee River. We planted a few trees and shrubs native to the river valley and surrounding areas during my first few weeks but it seemed like getting anything else to grow was going to be a struggle because space and light were extremely limited! The canopy was completely closed, choked by a jungle-esque thicket consisting of common buckthorn, and other invasive species I would later learn about. We hacked away at that buckthorn that threatened trees and shrubs planted in previous years, and I quickly learned that restoration of our native biodiversity wasn’t going to be easy, and would be best executed with a good plan and lots of help. ”

He came up with a list of some of the most common invasive species in our area.

Some that are available to purchase at greenhouses that we don’t recommend are:

  • callery pear
  • burning bush
  • Japanese barberry.
Others that we battle in our woodlands are:
  • Asian bush honeysuckle
  • common buckthorn
  • glossy buckthorn
  • multiflora rose
  • invasive bittersweet
  • garlic mustard
Those that we battle in prairies and open areas along streams and wetlands:
  • crown vetch
  • birds foot trefoil
  • sweet clover
  • leafy spurge
  • cypress spurge
  • wild parsnip
  • spotted knapweed
  • reed canary grass
  • Phragmites

Tyler Pellegrini, Restoration Ecologist, says, “The process of restoring native habitat is usually complex and requires several steps, and sometimes years of repeated effort to be successful. But for the most part, it often starts with removing the invasive species that are currently dominating whatever landscape you’re trying to restore. In some instances though, if the soil below is still holding onto a native seedbank, simply removing the dominating invasive species above is enough to allow that native seed to germinate and grow, and that’s always very rewarding when it happens.”

Tyler stands on a grinder used to grind up honeysuckle and buckthorn. On this day he is seen at our Lind-McGeachie Preserve. Photo: Alan Branhagen


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