May 032014

Robert Gosselin was singled out for recognition Thursday evening (May 1) at the Groton Conservation Trust’s Annual Meeting, part of its year-long 50th Anniversary celebration. Gosselin was one of the five original trustees, and he paid tribute to the vision he and Joseph S. Hayes, Richard M. Hinchman, Francis P. Nash, and Melvyn F. Rowan shared when they started the private non-profit land trust in 1964. Over the past 50 years, the trust has become the steward of more than 40 properties totaling over 1,400 acres.

But rather than linger on the past, the keynote speaker at the meeting took guests directly into present-day problem solving — dealing with the state’s invasive species.

“Of the 3,500 vascular plants in New England, 1,000 have been introduced from elsewhere, but only about 100 are considered invasive,” Ted Elliman told the group. Elliman, Senior Botanist with the New England Wildflower Society, identified the most common invasives. These non-native plants spread rapidly and aggressively, displacing the native flora, and persist in the natural landscape. Once established, they often offer no benefits to wildlife.

Some of the plants, like Norway Maple, Burning Bush Euonymus, Autumn Olive, and Japanese Barberry were deliberately introduced as exotic and useful landscaping specimens. Some, like Oriental Bittersweet and Glossy Buckthorn, have been spread by birds, who eat the nutrition-less, and often cathartic berries.

Since 2009, Massachusetts has banned the sale, propagation and importation of all plants considered invasive. This list is constantly updated as Early Detection Species, like Amur Cork Tree, Porcelain Berry, Mile-a-Minute Vine, and Giant Hogweed are just now spreading. Elliman stated that there are even six populations of the southern vine, Kudzu, growing in the state’s warmer coastal areas.
In light of global warming, the state is actively monitoring these new-to-New England invasives as they move farther north.

Methods of invasive plant control include manual, mechanical, chemical and biological controls. A weed wrench is useful in removing the total root systems of plants like Multiflora Rose. Round-up can be used in wetland areas, but only with special permits and expertise to prevent damage to other sensitive native plants. The Galerucella beetle has been used successfully in Groton to help control Purple Loosestrife. Fire is a slow labor-intensive method that works if the entire root crown can be burned. And grazing goats have been used to combat invasives in the Minute Man National Park in Lexington.

A Guide to Invasive Plants in Massachusetts

A Guide to Invasive Plants in Massachusetts

Two websites focusing on invasive plants are provided by The Invasive Plant Atlas of New Englandand the Massachusetts Invasive Plant Advisory Group. A pamphlet suitable for field use is published by the Division of Fisheries & Wildlife, “A Guide to Invasive Plants in Massachusetts” costs $5, and is available through the Groton Public Library’s regional library system.

Information on the Trust’s 50th year celebration activities is on its website, .