On the Hunt for Invasives

We've been focusing on our projects lately including the emerald ash borer traps, the snake/amphibian coverboards, and the bluebird boxes. We usually put these projects on the top of our priority list and try to get them done while the weather is good. If we get those projects done early, we usually get back out to the field to look for certain plants. Plants that shouldn't be here.
Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) along the Lake trail

Invasive plants are everywhere. Connecticut has no shortage of them. When exploring the White Memorial trails, it would take someone less than 3 minutes to find a plant species that shouldn't be there. Invasive plants are damaging to ecosystems because they can crowd out the native species and have the potential to change the ecosystem.That's why we're interested in their presence. We search in areas that are likely to contain the invasives and look for good-looking specimens to take with us.

Narrowleaf Bittercrest (Cardamine impatiens) at the western entrance of the boardwalk

The eventual destination of these specimens are the University of Connecticut Biological Collections. Here, they can be cataloged and used for research purposes if needed. After we collect them in the field, the specimens are pressed between sheets of newspaper under high pressure. This is done for preservation and storage purposes.We like to get at least 3 specimens to press when doing this. Having this many specimens allows us to have options when choosing which plant we want to send out. When looking at a plant, we look to see if all aspects of the plant are well represented. This includes the roots, stem, leaves, and flowers/fruit. If it all checks out, we can cross that invasive off our list and go to the next one.
Sheep Sorrel (Rumex acetosella) at the sewer beds

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