Monday, April 23, 2012

Happy Earth Day Surprises With Garlic Mustard-a Red-tailed Hawk, Fruit Blossoms and a Very Big Mushroom

                      Second year Garlic Mustard smothering woodland violets.
 See the tall plant with the white multi-floret blossom?  That is the ubiquitous, early seeding, one hundred seeds plus per plant per year, horrendously fast growing, shade loving, overwhelmingly invasive biennial garlic mustard plant, Alliaria petiolata. 

It is native to Europe and is often said to have been brought to North America by early settlers for salad greens, but may have been introduced later.  Whoever it was must have been desperate for salad greens as hardly anyone touches it as food now-except a few desperate birds.  Though it doesn't do them much good as the seeds often run through the system undamaged and the bird is only the vessel for dissemination of this vegetative plague.

In fact if you see it, by all means pull it out while still in blossom or before if possible, put in plastic trash bags, secure the bag, and run, do not walk, to your local landfill.  Dispose of it.  Do not put into compost.  Don't leave the bags on your property, seeds are perfectly happy to germinate five years from now when a container gets damaged. 
  Ignore the plants with the blossoms center and the Wild Geranium at the top.  Look at all the other vegetation.  See all those "cute" teeny heavily toothed ovate and heart shaped leaves?  Those are ALL first year garlic mustard.  Next year they will be a foot tall if not four feet tall and the native plants will be history.

 It utterly destroys woodlands.  Initially it aces all the wildflowers and woodland ground vegetation.  Then infested woods after ten years, will likely no longer be able to support sapling trees or understory plants such as dogwood, as they will be smothered out in infancy.  And as a woodland that can not reproduce itself is doomed, as the older trees will eventually age and die--Poof!  No woodlands only acre after acre of Garlic Mustard.

Desperate enough to use herbicides?  Well, it is remarkably resistant to them and Glyphosate is one of the few chemicals that zaps it.  It also zaps everything else.  Which means all the native plants you're trying to save have to be transplanted in and out or killed and seeded back in.
                                       Garlic Mustard woodland infestation

In Wisconsin on Earth Day, 97,000 pounds of Garlic Mustard was pulled out by the roots by volunteers.  That seems like a lot and it is a lot.  But there is still plenty to go round.  These volunteers prolonged the lives of the native plants in those woodlands and therefore their genetic populations.  They will be precious later and sorely needed to  reestablish native populations to smothered wood lands if things continue the way they are going.

And I pulled my share but there are ever so many special moments and gifts while you're out there beyond tugging these non-indigenous plants out by their roots...

 There was the semi-friendly Red-tailed Hawk. 

 I had worked myself into an area with a vista and when  I looked up from my pulling, there was a Red-tailed Hawk far off in the distance on a power line.  That was a nice surprise for most of the day I'd be under trees where hawks, unless they are in a nest above you, tend to go unobserved when you have your head down tugging.   But Red-tails do seem to feel eyes.  For almost as soon as I saw her she turned and looked at me askance.
    Then she gave me a look that wasn't any longer that askance one.  WOW!  Isn't that nice for a change.

     Then she turned round and looked out over the field for awhile looking for prey.
 Not that she'd forgotten me of course.  Though somewhat amenable she's still a rural hawk after all.
                                         She takes another long look at the field.

    Then she was up and heading for a circling pair of Turkey Vultures.  Ah ha!  It is the season for hard territorial boundaries now isn't it?

  Though I'd have liked for her to stay a bit longer, I also have to admit that at this time of year all Red-tails have family business to deal with and off she went to attend to it.

 And then there was the very old gnarled fruit tree in sprightly blossom on the edges of an oak grove by an old farmstead.   Was it an Apple?  Could it have possibly been planted by Johnny Appleseed? A daughter or grandson of one of his?

And last but not least was the moment when I looked down for another handful of garlic mustard and there was a lovely morel amongst it.

There are many gifts in the world if you pay attention, now aren't there?

 In from Robin of Illinois, the Franklin Red-tail's have eyasses!

                            Today's mystery plant is...?

As to yesterday's wildflower....
Linda Maslin is the reader who wrote in with the right answer.  This is Wild Geranium-- the lavender model.  It also comes in pink and white.

Field marks are?   The leaves and stems are hairy.  Plants with five lobed leaves and five petals are reasonably common but look at the center of the blossom.  That green structure is singular and commonly called its "crane bill". 

Donegal Browne


sally said...

cornell's RT nest had one eyass as of this morning

Betty Jo said...

In Southern California we have arundo donax from Asia which has taken over coastal streams and even brackish lagoons. Very difficult to remove as is it huge and sharp.
When the local rivers swell with rain, arundo is ripped out of the banks and carried downstream to invade another area. It is actually still sold in some nurseries but in my opinon should be illegal.
Betty Jo

Donegal Browne said...

Alright Sally,

Thanks for the heads up!

Donegal Browne said...

Betty Jo,

Arundo donax sounds remarkably destructive and horrid. Why am I not surprised that they still sell it at nurseries?

The Eastern U.S. is dealing with another sharp invasive that smothers everything comparable to Kudzu, dubbed Mile A Minute Vine by the nurseries that sell it.

Property owners who've been besieged call it Razor Vine. Due to the fact that when you are pulling it the thorns are so sharp they cut great slashes in your clothing (heavy denim is resistant but not much less) and it looks like you've been attacked by razors.

The mind reels that anyone would buy any of them due to their other attributes even if ignorant of their invasive qualities.

Though as it is nearly impossible to get them not to grow, nurseries can sell them at a "wonderfully" on sale price, I presume.

Perhaps some people can't resist a sale no matter what.

Karen Anne said...

Also invasive Phragmites in RI.

Anonymous said...

Anyone get the mystery plant? It is Cleavers I do believe
Donna Caesar