Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A beautiful preserve with beautiful weeds

In addition to the native ferns, eupatorium, mayapple, and other woodland plants at Beaver Meadow Nature Preserve, the white blossoms of rosa multiflora are everywhere, at least in June. It may have been planted in the early years of the establishment of the preserve in order to provide cover and prevent erosion; the tall, abundantly flowered bushes provide a picturesque bower along the trails.

This plant is pretty commonly known as one of the most persistent invasive species in North America. It is classified as a noxious weed in at least 11 states and there is an outright ban in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Well-meaning state conservation departments distributed this throughout the U.S. as a wildlife cover and songbird food source, but it quickly escaped all its boundaries and ran rampant. It’s still pretty though—both in blossom and fruit—and goats like it.

This is the first time I have seen r. multiflora in such abundance—you don’t see it too often in gardens and parks around here—but the knowledge of its criminal behavior didn’t lessen my enjoyment of this wonderful preserve in any way.

Preserves around here are mainly for bird watchers; special viewing areas are built in many of them so that you can watch the birds unseen. Plants aren’t quite as much of a priority, though I’ve seen plenty of lovely wildflowers during my walks. But I think the agencies that run these places correctly assume that most of their visitors come for the animal sightings. They may stop to smell the roses, but they're not worried about them.


Rose said...

There are so many weeds that are really quite pretty--it's all in the eye of the beholder. But I like them best in preserves like this, where I don't have to worry about them running rampant in my own garden:)

Darla said...

This is interesting.

NotSoAngryRedHead said...

It seems like good intentions from decades ago are ruining things everywhere today.

mkircus said...

Weeds are just plants that are not where people want them. They are often important plants for wildlife and are native to the area.

Invasive plants, on the other hand, have been brought in my man and then got loose and are wrecking havoc on the environment.

I'm a Texas master naturalist and one of our goals is to help people understand the harm non-native plants can do. (And we also spend many hours trying to beat them back so natives can regrow.) Many of the species of plants and animals that are becoming extinct are being damaged by invasive plants. Either they are replacing food plants for insects, birds and mammals, or they are taking the place of native plants. So before you plant something because it's pretty, please check the list of invasive plants for your state.

See the download section to see a list of your state's plants on the federal list here: