June 27 – July 3, 2014 Vol. 16, No. 4


Summertime in the Belgrades

June 27 – July 3

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So Many Invasives, We are International in Scope

Multiflora rose

Recently there seems to be an increase in terrestrial invasives. The Maine Natural Areas Program and the new Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry think we still have a chance to manage their spread here in Central Maine.

In the Belgrades, only 17% of the watershed is water-covered, and less than 5,500 acres will support milfoil growth. However 80% of the watershed is relatively dry land and supports the growth of terrestrial invasives. Point being that there is a great deal more land that is being invaded than water.

What are the culprits? Well . . . many of the plants read like a world atlas i.e. Japanese barberry, oriental bittersweet, Norway maple, Canadian thistle and Russian olive are just a few. This year seems to have far more multiflora rose, Japanese knotweed (a.k.a. Mexican bamboo) and Russian/autumn olive. Your backyards are feeling the pressure of these invasive plants. Check out the Maine Natural Areas Program website for both a list and pictures. If you have the chance, stop at a Cooperative Extension office and pick up some of their handouts.

Japanese Knotweed

In most cases, trying to control the spread of invasives is difficult. First you need to recognize that there is a problem. That occasional plant out back with interesting foliage and a pretty flower might become a thick bank of vegetation if you leave it.

Take a look along the edge of the woods on your property and note the occasional spring clusters of white flowers which indicate multiflora rose. Next year that small patch of white flowers will be joined by additional mounds of nasty thorn covered plants. Removal is much more difficult. Before long that area can become a breeding ground of fruit and seeds which get spread to neighboring properties.

Our natural landscape is part of what Maine is all about. Its future depends on the choices we make. When buying plants or moving them from place to place, consider whether the plants are likely to escape. Plants advertised as fast growing, prolific, and soil tolerant are often the ones that become invasive. Note the popularity and the spread of the Euonymus alata, a.k.a. burning bush. Maine just won't be Maine if the plants dominating our landscape are all from away. As Harry Potter's professor, Mad Eye Moody, would say, "Constant vigilance."

  • Replace invasive plants in your garden with non-invasive alternatives.
  • DO NOT attack the problem with indiscriminant herbicides. They may have a place in the battle but they are not a magic bullet. Be careful with their use.

Remember, there is a lot to do in order to protect water quality.

Conservation Too columns are written by staff at by the Kennebec County Soil and Water Conservation District in Augusta. For more information about the district and its projects, call Dale Finseth at 622-7847, X 3 or visit www.kcswd.org.

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