New England Wild Flower Society conservation staff work with SWEET volunteers to clear invasive plants from King Philips area in Sudbury, MA
by Vania Chan and Megan Boyle
Among the various invasive management projects for which New England Wildflower Society’s Conservation Department was contracted in the 2011 field season, one local engagement was funded by the Town of Sudbury. For three days, Ted Elliman, Megan Boyle, Vania Chan, and Matthew Robillard followed closely behind Society volunteer, Jim Wickis, and a number of Sudbury Weed Eradication and Education Team (SWEET) volunteers squirting herbicide on the freshly cut stems of glossy buckthorn, common buckthorn, multiflora rose, Japanese barberry, winged euonymus, oriental bittersweet, and Morrow’s honeysuckle at King Philip Woods Conservation Land.
SWEET is affiliated with the Sudbury Conservation Office and was the brainchild of Sudbury resident Rebecca Chizzo. Rebecca is certainly dedicated to her cause. Her passion with the work has rallied volunteers of all backgrounds and ages including upcoming lawyer, Greg Bradford, who took breaks from studying for the bar exam to come out and help. Over the three days we worked with SWEET, volunteers included high school students, retirees, and a mother and daughter team.
The area at King Philip is home to a variety of different habitats including vernal pools, upland woods, and a lily pond. Historically, the area was used by settlers in King Philip’s War in the late 1600s, and is thought to be full of interesting artifacts.
On our first day in June, clearing a line of buckthorn and multiflora rose opened the main trail to a lovely view of the lily pond. Throughout the woods, you could almost see the native trees and shrubs breathe sighs of relief as we cut and pulled the chokingly dense oriental bittersweet from their branches.
During each visit to King Philip, we worked our way through the woods uncovering stone walls, creating clearings for native plants, and sawing giant bittersweet roots that stretched high into the canopy. Though there is still much work to be done, SWEET is dedicated to the eradication of invasives in Sudbury, and Rebecca Chizzo won’t stop until the job is done.
Photo by Rebecca Chizzo