May 17, 2011
On May 21, 2011 the White River Partnership and the Upper White River Cooperative Weed Management Association (CWMA) will be hosting a garlic mustard weed pulling event in downtown Rochester, near the Rochester High School, from 9 am to noon. Garlic mustard is a non-native invasive plant that has the potential to spread aggressively throughout the Upper White River Watershed and is the target of a serious effort to control its spread.
The Upper White River Cooperative Weed Management Association (CWMA) is a collaborative effort among land owners, state and federal government agencies, and NGOs to address the effects of non-native invasive plants (NNIP) across jurisdictional/ownership boundaries within the Upper White River watershed. The CWMA consists of the Town of Rochester, Green Mountain National Forest, George D. Aiken Resource Conservation & Development Council, White River Partnership, Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation, and Vermont Agency of Transportation. The CWMA is actively engaged in inventorying, monitoring, controlling, and preventing the spread of several species of NNIP.
Controlling the spread of garlic mustard is among the CWMA’s top priorities because of the plant’s ability to spread quickly and displace the native vegetation within an area, and its detrimental effect on the West Virginia White Butterfly, a sensitive species in the region. The West Virginia White Butterfly commonly mistakes garlic mustard for toothwort, a native plant with similar looking leaves. However the butterfly’s larvae does not survive on the underside of garlic mustard leaves. Subsequently, the spread of garlic mustard will have a direct impact on the butterfly’s ability to sustain a viable population in the region.
MaryBeth Deller, botanist with the Green Mountain National Forest, says, “We are targeting this particular NNIP because it is a relative newcomer to the valley; we have the opportunity to do something about it before it becomes widespread.” Garlic mustard spreads quickly throughout stream corridors and in areas where frequent travel occurs. The Rochester village location was chosen because it contains a large patch of garlic mustard adjacent to a well used trail and mowed area, making it highly susceptible to spreading the scores of seeds that each plant produces. A single plant can produce up to 5,000 seeds, which is why it is critical to remove as many plants as possible before they go to seed (typically in late July and August). This allows only a limited window of opportunity to have an impact on the spread of garlic mustard.
Garlic mustard takes over areas and homogenizes ground cover by spreading a chemical in the soil that kills valuable naturally occurring soil fungi which native plants depend on for nutrient uptake. The spread of garlic mustard is precipitated by the fact that it has no natural predators. For more information about garlic mustard, check out the Nature Conservancy’s Wise on Weeds! invasive fact sheet.
The May 21st Garlic Mustard Pull will be a family-friendly event with opportunities to learn how to identify and prevent the spread of garlic mustard on your own property. Volunteers will be meeting at 9 am in the Rochester High School parking lot. Gloves, trash bags, and light snacks will be provided. Contact us with questions or to RSVP.