Blanco County News
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Natural Happenings in Blanco State Park
Blanco’s Most Wanted
Blanco State Park
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 • Posted April 23, 2011

Have you seen me?  I have small yellow flowers atop spindly stems with a large rosette at the bottom.  I thrive in the same areas as your famous Hill Country wildflowers, but I am not one of you!  I am known by many names – bastard cabbage, turnip-weed, common giant mustard, ball mustard, wild turnip, wild rape, tall mustard weed and technically as rapistrum rugosum.  

It is uncertain how this giant mustard got to the United States, perhaps in grass or feed seeds.  It is native to Central Europe, the Mediterranean, northern Africa and parts of Asia.  This quick spreading, invasive species has long been found along roadsides and in agricultural areas, but lately it has been taking over natural fields and riversides.  This invasive grows huge rosettes at the bottom of the plant, quickly shoots up flowers and generates seeds.  It does not take long before the rosettes form a shaded barrier over all the soil preventing native wildflower and grasses from growing.  Soon you will have nothing in your wildflower meadow or yard but this ugly interloper.

But you can keep this from happening!  First check reference books or www.texasinvasives.org to make sure you have identified the plant correctly.  Then it must be pulled up from the root.  With soil being so dry right now you will probably find that you have to dig the root up.  Place all removed plants in a plastic trash sack, tie, and place in the sun to solarize and kill the seeds.  These can then be thrown away.  Here at the park we pulled up well over 100 bags of this nuisance last spring and summer.  Try to remove plants before they send up seed heads to minimize the amount of times you have to return to the site.  Remember, you are not only taking care of your yard or meadow you are also keeping the plant from spreading to so far, uncompromised natural areas.

Invasive plants are a serious problem in Texas effecting the natural balance, beauty and commercial viability of the land.  To find out more about the invasive species in Texas and what you can do to help prevent their spread check out www.texasinvasives.org.  Let the war begin!  

You can help Blanco State Park work against established and incoming invasive species by coming out to one of our monthly Volunteer Days.  Volunteer Days are held the last Saturday of every month from 9:00am – Noon.  Each work day participants work on a particular project with Park Rangers.  Tools are provided, but plan to wear work gloves, sturdy shoes and bring water.  Next Volunteer Day is April 30th.

This Saturday, April 26th is another great day to be outside.  At 9:00am join local birder Shirley Winslow at the new Wildlife Viewing Station to watch Birds at Breakfast.  Head over at 10:00am for a guided hike along the Caswell Nature Trail to learn about local plants and animals and at 2:00pm join us along the banks of the river for Fish with a Ranger.  A great start to Easter weekend!

For details on these events or any other park happenings call 830-833-4333 or check out our Facebook page:  Texas Parks and Wildlife – Blanco State Park.

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