Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A beautiful preserve with beautiful weeds

In addition to the native ferns, eupatorium, mayapple, and other woodland plants at Beaver Meadow Nature Preserve, the white blossoms of rosa multiflora are everywhere, at least in June. It may have been planted in the early years of the establishment of the preserve in order to provide cover and prevent erosion; the tall, abundantly flowered bushes provide a picturesque bower along the trails.

This plant is pretty commonly known as one of the most persistent invasive species in North America. It is classified as a noxious weed in at least 11 states and there is an outright ban in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Well-meaning state conservation departments distributed this throughout the U.S. as a wildlife cover and songbird food source, but it quickly escaped all its boundaries and ran rampant. It’s still pretty though—both in blossom and fruit—and goats like it.

This is the first time I have seen r. multiflora in such abundance—you don’t see it too often in gardens and parks around here—but the knowledge of its criminal behavior didn’t lessen my enjoyment of this wonderful preserve in any way.

Preserves around here are mainly for bird watchers; special viewing areas are built in many of them so that you can watch the birds unseen. Plants aren’t quite as much of a priority, though I’ve seen plenty of lovely wildflowers during my walks. But I think the agencies that run these places correctly assume that most of their visitors come for the animal sightings. They may stop to smell the roses, but they're not worried about them.