By Jim Hurley
We had another strong turnout on February 18 in Barcroft Park, as 15 volunteers, including Tree Stewards, Americorps, Master Naturalists and Wingate residents answered the call of native plants needing to be rescued from exotic invaders. As has become customary, we began and ended the work with coffee and donuts, and in between continued to work on the stretch of the park between the bikepath and drainage ditch, near the picnic shelter. Again, we did more good damage to Multiflora Rose, cutting the canes back to a foot to get access to the root systems, which are spreading and far-reaching. Some of that old-growth R. multiflora needed pickaxes for extraction, as Lori Bowes leans into one clump on the drainage ditchbank.
The dominant shrub in the stretch we have worked on is Spicebush, Lindera benzoin, which we also freed from Japanese honeysuckle. There is a small contorted Black Walnut, Juglans nigra, that barely survived the Porcelainberry and Honeysuckle infestation, and several small (6′) Bitternut Hickory saplings (Carya cordiformis). Rounding out the Juglandaceae representation in the immediate area are Mockernut Hickory (Carya tomentosa) and Pignut Hickory (Carya glabra). Quite a nice little grove, but it will not be clear until the Lesser Celandine that is lurking and emerging, meets its chemical fate in the next couple months.
After celebrating the invasive harvest and a break (see action photo), John Dodge led us on a botanical walk (see photo) following an orientation to the natural history of Skunk Cabbage, Symplocarpus foetidus. We had a look at Sycamore, River Birch, and other streamside trees, and then walked into the Barcroft seeps and drainage areas for Sweetbay Magnolia, Skunk Cabbage, Soft Rush, and Common Alder, among others. Americorps volunteers led us to a patch of Spotted Wintergreen, as we lingered to enjoy emerging growth on an unseasonably warm and sunny winter day. Thanks again John!
Join us again on March 17 for the next installment of our work in Barcroft Park. We will do our normal, coffee-and-donut-fueled work session in the morning, then be joined by the new class of Master Naturalists for another work session. Come for either or both!