Progress Against Invasive Plants

-Barbara Walvoord

Yikes! This fall, you can clearly see how Lathrop’s woods are being invaded by alien shrubs and vines: the bright red of burning bush, the yellow-green of bush honeysuckle, the prickly multiflora rose and barberry, the orange berries of Oriental bittersweet vine. These plants still have leaves in fall when natives have gone dormant. They have left behind the competitors and enemies that control them in their native lands, so they can take over a woods, creating an impenetrable mass that supports many fewer insects, birds, and other wildlife than native plants.

We’re making progress against these invasives! The Land Conservation Subcommittee, working with Lathrop management, has a plan, a set of priorities, some money, and a contractor. Here is what is happening now:

  • Residents are removing invasive multiflora rose, Oriental bittersweet, and bush honeysuckle on the east campus near the vegetable garden.
  • Our landscaper has brushhogged east campus fields invaded by multiflora rose (northwest of the vegetable garden, and behind Mulberry Lane). Annual mowing now will keep down the invasive shrubs and encourage the grasses.
  • We will hire experts to remove 99% of the invasive shrubs and vines on some high-priority areas on both campuses, over three years. Then we will only need to monitor for small new plants, which can be pulled by hand.

As we do this work, our lovely native winterberry and chokecherry bushes will feed our wildlife, and native wildflowers will nourish our bees, birds, and butterflies. We think globally–climate change, species extinction, and invasive plants that gobble up an area the size of Delaware in the U.S. every year. We act locally– as responsible stewards of our own 150 acres of precious undeveloped Lathrop land.


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