Two Ways You Can Help our Native Wildflowers Now

by Barbara Walvoord

Our native woodland wild flowers, like Indian pipe, jack-in-the-pulpit, mayflower, and  trout lily, not only lift our hearts with their beauty, but support our food chains. 96% of birds need insects, not just nectar and seeds, to raise their young.  90% of insects eat only native plants (Douglas Tallamy, Bringing Nature Home). Invasive plants crowd out our native wildflowers and reduce wildlife.

  1. Don’t dump plants (especially ground cover), plant parts, or soil in the woods.  Patches of our land on both campuses are already covered with alien invasives like ivy, vinca, pachysandra, and bishop’s weed, crowding out native wildflowers.
  2. If you can, go into the woods on either campus and pull garlic mustard, one of the most dangerous invasives for our U.S. woodlands (http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/indiana/journeywithnature/garlic-mustard.xml).  If the plant has not yet formed blossoms, you can leave it there; if it has blossoms, remove it, because, even when pulled, the blossoms can develop seeds.  A single garlic mustard plant can produce hundreds of seeds, which are viable in the soil for up to 7 years.

On the east campus, the garlic mustard lies along the woods edge on the last half of Mulberry Lane.  The area at the very end, where woods changes to wetland, is easy to access, with no poison ivy that I know of; start there.  As you move down into the woods, below the bridge, the footing is rougher and there is poison ivy.  On the north campus, look for garlic mustard starting at the path.  Jo Davis produced a really nice video that ran last year on the screen in the Meeting House entrance, showing how to find and remove garlic mustard.

The land committee’s 22 members work well together, enjoy our land, and enthusiastically seek new members, whatever their physical capabilities–there’s lots of interesting work to do. Contact me at walvoord@nd.edu.

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