Invasive Land Plants and their Control

Garlic Mustard

Garlic Mustard

Lake Scugog and its watershed are relatively young having only been formed by the last glaciers 7 to 10 thousand years ago.  By the time the area saw the beginning of major human intervention with the enlargement of the lake by the Lindsay dam in in the 1830’s, the elimination of the forest cover and its replacement by farmed lands; this area had developed a large biodiversity — but not the crowded biodiversity of much older lands not subject to glaciation.

Therefore, various species, brought from these older lands — where competition for survival is much more difficult — proliferate with little or no restrictions here.

Some of the species listed below are becoming such a threat to our forests, meadows and even farmlands that a special council was formed several years ago made up of representatives from Agriculture, Conservation Ontario, Woodlot Associations and even the Scugog Lake Stewards. It has developed a series of “Most Wanted” posters to be posted throughout Ontario on websites and in print versions.  We have attached these posters in the appropriate places in the information below. These sites take some time to load, so please wait, the information is worth it.

One of the nasty invaders that we must currently be on the watch for is the attractive plant, Garlic Mustard (pdf)  (Seen at top right) It was brought here as a potherb and it has suddenly become an aggressive alien outcompeting native flora.  As a method to reduce competition, Garlic Mustard roots produce a toxic substance that kills the fungi in forest soils that enables germination of new plants including maples and it is very harmful to trilliums.  So check your gardens and woodlots.  This plant keeps a basal rosette of bright green leaves right through winter — all the better to get a jump on spring and be the first to bloom in the spring.  Since they bloom so early, gardeners may think them attractive additions to their gardens and even transplant them to other locations.   Please do not do this!   These are nasty plants.

Dog Strangling Vine

Another land invader that is proving exceptionally aggressive and which has moved into our area has the picturesque name — Dog Strangling Vine.   (Seen in middle photos at right) A member of the milkweed family it puts out thousands of downy seeds that travel great distances on the wind.

Dog Strangling Vine

Dog Strangling Vine

When it takes root it spreads underground quickly forming thick, literally dog-strangling, vines that overwhelm forests and swarm along roadsides obliterating all other species in its path.  Please check out the “Most wanted” poster on this species which is attached below.

The last new invasive plant we highlight here is one that has just been spotted in Leamington, Ontario, but which is known by the slang name as “The plant that ate the South.” Kudzu vine

Kudzu Vine

Kudzu Vine

(See the scary photo below) It is a member of the legume family.   It grows so quickly and so densely that it covers whole forests, robbing them of light and therefore killing the trees within.  Please make sure you can recognize this plant should you spot it.  Report it immediately to Rachel Gagnon, Co-ordinator of the Ontario Invasive Plant Council. rachel_gagnon@ofah.org

The last “Most Wanted” poster we have attached is an old problem — the small tree or large shrub Buckhorn (pdf) which invades neglected farm fields, hedgerows and open areas in forests.  It produces a prolific number of seed which are transmitted by birds and mice to new locations.  They grow thickly in monocultures, eliminating all the beautiful native varieties such as Highbush Cranberry, Elderberry, Nannyberry, Serviceberry and many more.

Scugog Lake Stewards, April 2010 

www.ont-woodlot-assoc.org