The Natural Side of Things: Having a field day

Field Day with the Kings

Terri and Richard King hosted a Woodland Invasive Species Field Day for landowners on June 29. PHOTO BY TERRI TALAREK KING

By Terri Talarek King

It would be embarrassing if it wasn’t so common.
That is — the amount of invasive plants on my property.
Of course it’s unfortunate, to say the least, that this is so common. Invasive species have become one of the top threats to our environment. It’s a huge problem that we all share. But, that means we can all work together to take care of it.
I have not counted all the types of invasive species in and around our woodland, but there is enough variety represented that my husband Richard and I could host a Woodland Invasive Species Field Day for landowners on June 29. About 25 people took a hearty tour through our woods, learning to identify species. The workshop was conducted by Will Drews, natural resources specialist with the Knox County Soil and Water Conservation District, and sponsored by Knox County’s Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area.
It was some relief that those attending were able to see a good chunk of woodland that Richard and I had practically cleared of invasive plants, the result of hard work over the past few years or so. The majority of the plants were Asian bush honeysuckle, some very large, which had been choking out native species and preventing tree saplings from flourishing. Around the edges there had been loads of tangles of oriental bittersweet vines — some so thick they required a chainsaw — busy strangling even large trees. Now, that part of our woodland looks the way a normal southern Indiana woodland should, with saplings and other native plants filling in the spaces.
In sharp contrast was the area we hadn’t gotten to, with Asian bush honeysuckle so thick we can’t walk through it. Garlic mustard starts at the crop field edges and infiltrates the woodland across the ground, threatening to completely take over. There are also white mulberry trees, Japanese honeysuckle vines and smatterings of multiflora rose and winter creeper.
Drews also educated attendees on how to control invasive plants, and demonstrated various methods. Everyone received a copy of the new field guide to invasive plants of Knox County, provided by CISMA, and other very helpful information. It was a most valuable experience for all.
I only wish that some of our neighbors had attended, too. When I walk up our road I see more species, and quite an abundance of them. After all, plants don’t recognize property lines. We all share this problem, and I’d be glad to help them out.
To learn more about area invasive plants, what you can do about them, and how the SWCD and CISMA can help, contact Will Drews at 812-882-8210 ext. 3408, or . Also, check out the SWCD web site, including information about CISMA, at .

Terri Talarek King lives in Knox County and is a naturalist and organic gardener, educator and writer. She is certified as an advanced master naturalist and grow organic educator.