||The Deerfield River Watershed Association is pleased to announce an award of $15,000.00 from the Massachusetts Environmental Trust to manage the invasive plant, Japanese knotweed, in rivers and streams throughout the watershed. Japanese Knotweed, a native of Eastern Asia, is a fast-growing perennial that forms dense thickets along stream banks and roads, and in yards and disturbed areas. With this funding, the Association will begin removing knotweed from selected rivers and streams and design an outreach program to provide the watershed community with practical information on the identification and management of knotweed. The DRWA will be working with a diverse group of community members to tackle this wide-spread problem, including Trout Unlimited, Massachusetts Riverways Program, Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, and local municipalities and landowners, among others.
The Association is seeking volunteers to help biologists survey and remove knotweed in several rivers and streams in the watershed in the spring of 2006. Please call or email Pat Serrentino at (413) 772-0520; firstname.lastname@example.org if interested in volunteering for the project or if you have any questions.
This project is made possible by the generosity of motorists who choose to purchase one of the Massachusetts Environmental Trust's specialty license plates. The Trust will provide close to $1 million in grants to over 40 organizations this year. These grants provide funds for programs that preserve the state's rivers and streams, protect rare species, and educate communities about environmental issues. Please go to www.MassEnvironmentalTrust.org to learn more about the Trust, the programs it supports, and the specialty license plate offerings.
you drive down the road or highway, take a walk in your neighborhood,
or go fishing in your favorite river or stream, there’s a good chance
you have seen several invasive plant species. In the Deerfield River
watershed you would most likely encounter Asiatic or Oriental
Bittersweet, Bishop’s Weed, Multiflora Rose, Japanese Knotweed, and
Garlic Mustard, among others.
Before going any further, however, there are several terms we should define. A native plant is one that has grown in a particular geographic area for long periods of time. A non-native plant (or alien, exotic, introduced plant) is one that occurs outside its
natural range, and was brought to a new site or several sites through
human activities. For example, a non-native plant in Massachusetts may
have originally come from Asia or Africa, but also could have come from
the West Coast of the United States. Non-native plants have many uses
in our lives. We use them as food sources, derive medicines from some,
and enjoy them in our gardens. However, when a non-native plant
exhibits certain characteristics, it’s considered invasive.
A plant is invasive in an area if it grows rapidly and is difficult to remove or control
once established. High seed production and/or germination rate, or the
ability to spread rapidly by their rhizomes or root systems are other
features of invasive plants. Obviously there are many non-native plants
that do not behave in ways that are harmful to the natural environment.
We’re not worried about these plants.
What is it that allows some non-native plants to become invasive?
non-native species may become invasive in its new environment because
it does not have any natural predators and diseases to keep its growth
in check or to prevent its successful reproduction. In their new
environment they also may not have any natural plant competitors so
they are able to grow unchecked.
How do these plants actually harm the natural environment?
Characteristics of invasive plants that allow them to alter natural environments are the following:
• Plants physically take over the space around them which prevents native plants from growing in the same area.
Plants change their immediate environment by altering the amount of
sunlight, water, and nutrients that are available to other plants and
On a larger scale, invasive plants can actually decrease the variety
and number of native plants that are available to wildlife and other
organisms, for food, shelter, and breeding or nesting sites.
invasive species take over large areas of habitat, ecological processes
are changed. This occurs because the plants and animals in an area have
evolved together for thousands of years, which results in a complex web
of species interactions. For example, many butterfly and moth species
require specific food plants for their caterpillars or larvae. Some
birds prefer to nest in or forage on particular plant species.
is a list of some species that pose the greatest threat to natural
communities in Massachusetts. These species were selected from a list
published by the Massachusetts Invasive Plant Working Group (2003). Many of these plants are found in more than one habitat type.
Wetlands (marshes, shrub swamps, wet meadows)
Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)
Phragmites or Common Reed (Phragmites australis)
Shining Buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula)
Yellow Iris (Iris pseudacorus)
Floodplains and Stream Banks
Morrow’s Honeysuckle (Lonicera morrowii)
Japanese Knotweed or Bamboo (Polygonum cuspidatum)
Goutweed or Bishop’s Weed (Aegopodium podagraria)
Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)
Open Habitats (fields, right-of-ways, parks, cemeteries)
Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia)
Oriental Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus)
Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii)
Multiflora Rose (Rosa multiflora)
Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii)
Multiflora Rose (Rosa multiflora)
Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)
Common Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica)
Ponds, Lakes, Rivers
Water-chestnut (Trapa natans)
Variable Water-milfoil (Myriophyllum heterophyllum)
Eurasian milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum)
Fanwort (Cabomba caroliniana)
Curly-leaved pondweed (Potamogeton crispus)
There are several things you can do to prevent the spread of invasive plants. First, learn to identify
invasive plants, and native ones, too. There are many resources in your
local library, bookstore, and on the internet. For example, guides to
plant identification are a good place to start. The Massachusetts
Invasive Plant Working Group has recently published a list of plants that are considered invasive in Massachusetts.
Don’t plant invasive species in your garden – use native species and non-natives that tend
to stay put. Encourage your neighbors to do the same. If you discover
an invasive species in your yard or garden, remove it immediately.
Since moving to my current home, I have found several invasive plants
in my yard – including Norway Maple, Asiatic Bittersweet, and Japanese
If you’re visiting a public or private nature reserve or park, report any sightings of new or small patches of known invasive species to the land manager.
It’s much less expensive and time-consuming to stay ahead of
infestations if they’re controlled at the first sign of invasion.
You can also get involved
in local garden clubs and conservation organizations. Spread the word
about the impacts of invasive plants to native biodiversity and help
with projects that identify and remove invasive plants in your area.
DRWA has conducted an inventory of several tributaries of the Deerfield
River for Japanese Knotweed, a fast-growing perennial that has already
taken over acres of stream bank on the Deerfield River, and has spread
into many tributaries. This native of Eastern Asia can grow as tall as
18 feet and quickly forms large thickets that out-compete native plant
communities. It tolerates a wide variety of environmental conditions,
is fast-growing, and spreads by both rhizomes or roots and seeds. It is
one of the few invasives that have become a problem in places as far
away as Alaska. We hope to begin removing the plant at selected sites
in 2004. If you’re interested in participating in future plant surveys or removal efforts, please contact Pat Serrentino at (413) 772-0520.
To learn bout eradication of Japanese knotweed, read the article in the Fall 2004 Current.
Results of the 2003 Japanese Knotwed Survey:
Most of the entire length of this stream was surveyed. Patches were
confined to two locations: (1) just south of where Burrington Road
enters Avery Road, and (2) at the confluence of Avery Brook and the
Approximately 3.4 km of the Bear River was inventoried. Patches of
knotweed were found in both areas that were surveyed - from the portion
that flows between Pfersick Road and Shelburne Falls Road, and where
the Bear flows into the Deerfield River. However, most of the Bear was
About one-third of the Chickley River was surveyed. Unfortunately,
knotweed was abundant and well-distributed along the portion that flows
between West Hawley and southwest of Forge Hill. No knotweed was found
in the section upstream of West Hawley. The headwater area (upstream of
where Brown Brook enters) was not surveyed.
Clesson Brook: Approximately 70% of the Clesson’s 19.6 km length was surveyed by foot,
car, and bicycle. Very little knotweed was found between Cox Ponds and
where Cooley Brook enters the Clesson. Knotweed was growing in an
almost continuous patch between Buckland Four Corners and the Clesson’s
confluence with the Deerfield River.
Green River: The Green River, at almost 32.5 km, was the longest river surveyed.
About 50% of the River’s length was inventoried. The distribution of
knotweed varied with location. In general, upstream of West Leyden
knotweed was found in small patches and single plants. Downstream of
where Workman Brook entered the Green, knotweed patches increased in
both number and density. Similar to what was observed on the banks of
Clesson Brook, knotweed patches were almost continuous between the Rte.
2A bridge and where the Green enters the Deerfield River.
Sanders Brook: Most of this brook is located in H.O. Cook State Forest in Heath. About
50% of this beautiful, high velocity stream was surveyed and one patch
was found – where it enters the West Branch of the North River at
Adamsville Road. Most of the lower end of the brook was not surveyed
because it is on private property.
Approximately 40% of the South River was surveyed. Because this river
is close to 30 km long, it was difficult to survey the entire reach.
Very little knotweed was found from between where the river exits
Ashfield Lake to the Bullitt Road crossing. However, just upstream of
where the South empties into the Deerfield River (in the South River
State Forest) huge patches of knotweed were found.
This brook flows from Tannery Falls in Savoy Mountain State Forest, to
Gulf Brook. For 1.3 km it flows through heavily forested, steep
terrain. Happily, no knotweed was found along the banks of this brook.
See 2003 Report:
- Japanese Knotweed Inventory of Selected Tributaries
of the Deerfield River(PDF file)
- Maps with survey results (PDF file warning: 9MB!)
many of these sites you can look up specific plants and see a
photograph or picture, learn about its specific characteristics, and at
some sites, methods for controlling it.
New England Wildflower Society: General information; links to the Massachusetts Plant List
Invasive Plant Atlas of New England (IPANE): General information, plant descriptions, and volunteer surveys
Invasivespecies.gov: Government website with general information on invasive plants and animals
Weeds Gone Wild: This Plant Conservation Alliance’s site has all kinds of information and is easy to use
Garlic Mustard Control Presentation Available Online
With Garlic Mustard season upon us, this is a good time to learn more
about this plant. Check out this EXCELLENT taped webcast from The
Stewardship Network based in Michigan. It covers the biology of
the plant and control measures, including good tips for better control.
It takes about 45 minutes (with an extra 15 of discussion and
questions) and is well worth the time. It also would be a good
tool if you are using hand pulling with volunteers to educate them on
the project. Webcast is online at: http://breeze.cvm.msu.edu/p37329821/
The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station's Invasive Aquatic Plant Program now has a website
where you can find:
general information about the program; survey results, including
colorful maps; descriptions of the invasive aquatics; volunteer
information; form to request a survey of a lake; legislation concerning
aquatic invasive plants; management information; publications; links to
other helpful sites; contact information.