Summer 2010 brought volunteers into the SuAsCo watershed to search for invasive plants.
In the summer of 2010, the Sudbury-Assabet-River Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (SuAsCo-CISMA) partnership held several workshops introducing volunteers to three of the early detection species on the target list for CISMA volunteer surveys. These species are Japanese stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum), mile-a-minute (Polygonum perfoliatum), and kudzu (Pueraria montana).
Of these three species, Japanese stiltgrass is the most widespread in Massachusetts. With the volunteers, we viewed populations of this annual grass in Framingham and Sherborn—later in the summer, a team of dedicated volunteers worked hard to pull out the Framingham population of stiltgrass that is scattered along a mile of the Sudbury River.
Our next stop on the early detection tour was the mile-a-minute infestation in Canton near the Blue Hills. The first discovery of mile-a-minute in the state was in 2006 along a trail in the Neponset River Reservation. Since then, about a dozen additional populations have been found from Falmouth to Greenfield. By far the largest of the populations is the Canton infestation that we viewed; it covers about 60 acres of woodlands, utility corridors, and thickets near I-95. Ale Echandi of the Department of Conservation and Recreation has initiated a project to release weevils to attack this infestation; these weevils are one of two USDA-approved biocontrols for invasive pants in the northeast (the other one is the Galerucella beetle which feeds on purple loosestrife). After our visit to this site, SuAsCo-CISMA volunteers observed mile-a-minute populations in the watershed towns of Littleton and Westford. These infestations, both on private properties, are on the state’s target list for eradication.
The third species on the tour was a kudzu infestation in Needham, near the Charles River. This notorious plant, that has wreaked such havoc in the south, occurs in several popualtions in Massachusetts, mostly on the coast. This particular population, which covers about ½ acre of an abandoned lot, is climbing up several tall oaks and has spread over the entire yard. When we visited this population in mid-August, plants were in bud but had not yet bloomed; volunteer Jim Wickis returned later in the month and photographed the flowers. The seeds are most likely not fertile; kuudzu in the United States spreads primarily from runners and rhizomes. So far, even with energetic searching, volunteers have not found any more kudzu populations in the SuAsCo watershed or nearby—we hope it stays that way!