Battling the Green Meanies: Protecting Munds Park from Invasive Plants
We have sneaky green villains sapping the land of its value and beauty while causing a ruckus in the environment. You, dear reader, can become the hero in this story, fighting the good fight against these invasive plant culprits!
These pesky invaders aren’t just a nuisance; they cost the US economy a whopping $120 billion annually. They also fan the flames of wildfires, mess with our precious biological diversity, and leave a lasting scar on the land, unlike the natural healing process after a fire. Here’s how these green meanies disrupt our environment:
They push out native plants and reduce biodiversity.
They steal water and native pollinators from desirable plants.
They turn diverse plant communities into a single-species party.
They downgrade wildlife habitats and block streams, causing floods.
They make soil erosion worse and cover trails, walkways, lots, and landscapes.
Munds Park has a couple of these invasive weeds that need our attention. Keep an eye out for these two troublemakers:
The Diffuse Knapweed (Centaurea diffusa)
This non-native knapweed grows 1-2.5 feet tall, with white, pink, or lavender flowers. It’s super competitive, excluding other vegetation and producing lots of seeds. Yank it out before it seeds, and bag those pesky flowers to avoid spreading. If you find rosettes (clusters of leaves at the base) in the spring, pull them out too. Mowing is a no-go; it only makes things worse. Patience is key, as it takes years to control knapweed due to its long-lasting seeds.
The Scotch Thistle (Onopordum acanthium)
Another non-native, Scotch thistle is a relentless weed that can grow up to 6 feet tall. In its first year, it produces a rosette (cluster of leaves at ground level) and then sends up a multi-branched, flowering stalk in its second year. Its leaves have a grayish appearance due to dense hairs. Dig it out, cutting the root an inch below the ground. Bag the flowering plants or chop them up to avoid seeding. Mowing isn’t recommended for this one either. Be prepared for a long battle, as Scotch thistle seeds can stay viable for decades.
Important note: Don’t confuse Scotch thistle with native buddies Wheeler’s and Arizona thistle.
For further information, please see the informative website on Northern Arizona’s Invasive Plants from the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension at: www.nazinvasiveplants.org. Together, we can protect Munds Park from these botanical baddies!
Note: It is crucial to exercise caution and use environmentally friendly methods when addressing invasive plants. The use of herbicides should be avoided, unless they are organic, as they can have detrimental effects on forest land, animals, and bees. Preserving the delicate balance of our ecosystems is paramount in our fight against invasive plants.