Alien Invasions

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While many plants are just now budding and flowering and sprouting leaves, there are others that have retained some degree of color all of this mild winter long. Besides the obvious evergreens like holly, juniper, and pine, one of the most prominent of these plants on the floodplains of the Monocacy, and throughout Frederick, is the Japanese Honeysuckle, or Lonicera japonica.  It’s a non-native vine that attracted gardeners with its delicate flowers and heady aroma and then, with the fast-growing tenacity common to all invasive species, escaped its tidy beds and uncoiled itself across the wild landscape, binding trees and suffocating the native groundcover. I’ve been taking photos of this intruder, intending to dedicate some part of a blog post to it, so it seemed a great opportunity (or at least prompt) when yesterday a Facebook post from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources informed me that it’s National Invasive Species Awareness Week. I’ve written about invasive species several times before, often to complain about their less-than-desirable attributes, like itchiness, or poisonousness, and I keep a running list of them in my Wildflowers of the Monocacy page by noting the word “alien” behind its common name. You can find a more exhaustive list of these aliens here, at the site of the Maryland Invasive Species Council (MISC).

Unlike the usual trash I can just pick up and stuff in a bag, invasive species cannot be eradicated in a moment. A few days ago, when I took my father into the mountains of the Frederick Municipal Forest to find a trout pond, he found himself distracted by all of the Japanese Honeysuckle that had insinuated itself into the underbrush. Despite his poor balance and aching joints, he began trying to disentangle it. After a great deal of work (and a little pain inflicted by the brier patch the honeysuckle had infiltrated), we did manage to pull some of it up by the roots. It seemed a sorry effort when we stepped back to see all that remained. But I can be stubborn, too.

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6 thoughts on “Alien Invasions

  1. I think every nation has alien (introduced) flora as well as fauna and what for one country is a pest another protects as an ‘endangered species’. Possums in New Zealand are not protected and ‘are fair game’ if they become a nuisance, which the generally are, whereas here in Australia they are a protected animal. We have a lot of lantana here which is considered a noxious weed which is rampant on mostly local government property 🙂 Linda

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    1. How interesting! The possum isn’t protected here, but no one considers it a nuisance either. When my husband and I went on our honeymoon 17 years ago, we visited New Zealand and Australia. Since we were on a budget, we camped when we were there, and, as we were entering Australia from New Zealand, the customs agents asked where our tent had been (to keep out alien flora and fauna, I’m sure). We were concerned, but when we answered “New Zealand” (because we had bought a new tent), they practically laughed and waved us through.

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