Unwanted Guests

I’m a little embarrassed to say that I don’t know the names of most of the weeds that I pull from my suburban garden.  It’s getting a little easier to identify them, though, because with all the rain we’ve had lately, there seems to be more of them reaching the flower stage (I suppose a little weeding procrastination is helping with that too …).  The other day, I noticed what I thought might be a garlic mustard, and I quickly pulled it out.  Why?  Because I have learned that it’s what’s called an invasive species.

An introduced plant species is one that has been brought into an environment from somewhere else, and when an introduced plant has the ability to thrive to the point where it disrupts established ecosystems and forces out native plants, it is considered invasive.

If you want to learn more about the invasive plant species in Ontario, there are a number of organizations and websites that provide information and photos of invasive plants. Ontario’s Invading Species Awareness Program and Invasive Species Centre are two of them.  You can also test your knowledge on invasive species by taking the Land Stewardship quiz on the Bruce Trail Conservancy’s site.

Some of the invasive plant species you’ll see on these sites are found along the Caledon Hills section of the trail.  “A Quick Reference Guide to Invasive Species” and the Invasive Species Centre’s “Hiker Action Plan” (scroll to the bottom of the linked page!) have some great tips on how hikers can help prevent the spread of invasive plants, which are essentially:

  • Stay on the trail (you’re supposed to do this anyway!)
  • Clean off your clothes, boots, and dog before you leave the hiking area

Another way to help prevent the spread of invasive species is to remove the plants from the trail.  Last week, on June 2nd and 3rd, the Caledon Hills Bruce Trail Club had two “Garlic Mustard Pulls” to remove garlic mustard from the trail through the Hockley Valley Nature Reserve.

You can see from all the garbage bags that there were a lot of plants pulled!  Unfortunately, there is much more work to be done to stop the spread of garlic mustard on the trail.  If you’re interested in helping, or know any students who would like to earn their volunteer hours by helping to clear the trail of this invasive species, contact Gary Hall, one of our Land Steward Coordinators (garyhall@rogers.com).

All this has got me thinking about my garden again. One more way to help prevent the spread of invasive species?  I’m going to look for native rather than invasive species when shopping at the nursery.

With photos from:  Helen Billing

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Thinking of joining in on the 50th Anniversary Celebration in Tobermory on June 10th? There’s still time to register!

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