When the “Good Guys” Go Bad: The Role of Native Fauna in the Spread of Invasive Plants

Humans play a leading role in the spread of invasive species. From accidental introductions, like Japanese stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum), to intentional planting, like tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) and mimosa (Albizia julibrissin), we have done an exceptional job of transporting invaders all over the world. Our cars carry seeds and propagules along highways, our boats… [Read More]

The Root of the Problem: Garlic Mustard

It’s a classic tale of being careful what you wish for. As a high school student in Germany I went hiking with my classmates in the early spring woods. As I unpacked lunch, friends gathered knoblauchskraut at the forest edge, and we then added the native herb to our sandwiches.  “Ah,” I thought. “If only… [Read More]

Evergreen and Creepy: It’s Winter Creeper!

Winter Creeper, (Euonymus fortunei), with its glossy evergreen leaves, is easy to spot in the woods right now. This member of the Bittersweet family, (Celastraceae), is native to China, Japan and Korea. Introduced here as an ornamental plant, Winter Creeper, also known as Creeping Euonymus, has escaped cultivation, according to the National Park Service, and… [Read More]

Getting Rid of Japanese Barberry: Why and How

Japanese barberry, (Berberis thunbergi), arrives in the woods by birds eating the fruits in winter and pooping/planting them. It can grow in full shade and established woods. Nobody, (especially not deer), eats the leaves or the prickly twigs. It can root where branches touch the ground and where seeds are dropped in place to make… [Read More]

Who Belongs to the Dead Plant Society?

How often do you get to kill something and feel good about it? It’s good anger management therapy! There we were, hiking up Stone Mountain, near Atlanta, going through one of the smallish wooded areas (most of it is bare granite). When what to my wondering eyes did appear, but a bunch of bittersweet….oh, my… [Read More]

Raise Your Voice

A conviction that native plants are important is what motivated Ruth Douglas to raise her voice. Deciding to become active in their support was not an easy choice for Ruth, who had to overcome an inherently shy personality, but it’s a decision she does not regret. Her journey through deeper levels of commitment has given her… [Read More]

Can Invasive Plants Be Valuable?

Our Capital Naturalist, Alonso Abugattas, recently took action in response to a misinformed  article that ran last week in a Virginia paper touting the benefits of invasive, non-native plants. We thought his comments deserving of a wider audience and he has kindly given us permission to print his letter to the editor of that paper,… [Read More]

Unwanted and Unloved: Porcelain-berry!

This is the time of year when it becomes apparent that porcelain-berry is making a bold attempt at taking over the world. Or at least vast swathes of Virginia’s forests, especially those near urban areas. Suddenly those white flowers and multi-colored berries are appearing on what seemed yesterday to be innocent green vines…in fact, didn’t… [Read More]

Wavyleaf Basketgrass: Help Stop it Now!

Driving into the Nature Conservancy’s Fraser Preserve on a warm July morning is like entering a sanctuary. The hustle and bustle of the Beltways is left behind as I head west on Georgetown Pike, watching the houses get further and further apart. A few more turns and dips and I start wondering if I’m lost…. [Read More]

The Plantwhacker Wins!

For years, while mercilessly killing non-native invasive plants at Long Branch Nature Center, I have harbored the admitted fantasy that the invasives’ removal will magically reveal some cool, unexpected native plants. And to be sure, I have seen some nice native plants and have been able to track how many of them respond positively to… [Read More]