Thirty-two master Gardeners and others from the community attended the Invasive Plant Workshop presented in Johnson City on March 22. Two presenters from the Ladybird Wildflower Center in Austin gave out workbooks and hand-outs to enhance the information that they gave in power-point presentations. Our main presenter Justin Bush is the Invasive Species Program Manager at the University of Texas - Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas. In this capacity, he manages www.texasinvasives.org , a Texas-wide partnership to identify and manage non-native invasive species
Justin Bush explained how invasive plants & critters travel between countries (and areas within the country), the impact they have on the economy and on native plants and wildlife. Seeds or insects can stow away on international transport (ships, planes, etc.) or be deliberately imported to combat one problem (like erosion) without knowing the harmful effects they may cause (like KR bluestem).
Texas Invasives Organization acts as a clearinghouse for all agencies involved in the field, the Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Control (TIPPC) coordinates efforts. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center along with the Texas Forest Service and Texas A & M University system sponsor Invaders of Texas a Citizen Scientist program (the Workshop) to detect and report invasive species. Attendees received instructions to identify the different plants that are on the current list and how to report them.
From the current list of Invasive Plants Mr. Bush explained what the “Dirty Dozen” of Blanco County are: Chinese privet (Ligustrum), Chinese tallow tree, Johnson grass, Heavenly bamboo (Nandina), Chinaberry, Japanaese honeysuckle, Scarlet firethorn (Pyracantha), Elephant ear, King Ranch bluestem, Bastard cabbage, Malta star thistle, and a new threat, Brazilian vervane. Examples of these were shown to us for identifying purposes.
If you planted any of these you may think, “they are not causing problems in my yard.” And indeed they may not. The problems occur by the spreading of the plants by seeds. The distribution can be by birds, animals, water run-off, boats, and accumulation in debris or simply carried by your shoes. Many invasive plants find their way to our waterways and become established because of fertile soil and available water. The Wildflower Center and Master Gardeners can suggest native replacements for these plants. These replacements are easy to grow drought tolerant and natural in the surroundings.
The agencies listed above are trying to educate the Nursery Growers Industry to substitute the propagation of more native plants to replace the availability of the unintended propagation of invasive species. We as customers can help by requesting the natives for our gardens and public areas.
Some of the most important pests coming our way across the USA are the Asian long horned beetle, the Cactus moth, the Emerald ash borer, and the Gypsy moth. They too must be minimized in our landscape.
Reporting the invasive plants and pests to www.taxasinvasives.org is vital to the success of reducing the growing numbers of Native Plants & Wildlife threatened by these unwanted & unneeded flora & fauna. The best disposal for collected invasives is by fire. Burning them insures they do not continue to prorogate into our world. Be aware of the Burn Bans for our county. The City of Blanco has a burning facility, please contact them for more information.
Master Gardeners of Blanco County are now a satellite group of Citizen Scientists with Tricia Timmons as our team leader. If you have questions or want more information please contact the Texas A & M AgriLife Extension Office at 830-868-7167.
Another helping hand may be collecting Native Plant seeds for the seed bank at the Wildflower Center. Plant Conservationist, Minnette Marr, also from the Wildflower Center explained the seed bank at the Center. How and why native seeds are collected and banked for future use. Some seeds are being processed to last for a hundred years or more to insure the future has this world variety of productive seeds. Example: no more than 10% of an endangered plant seed crop is harvested and only every ten years. They will be kept until the control method has been developed. Then they will reintroduce the plant to the area from which it was harvested after the threat has been eliminated. The Native Plant Information Network www.npin.org is a contact point for what, where, when & how to collect seeds for now and the future. Seeds and being collected and stored all over the world. Be a helping hand contact the website above or the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
The day’s education concluded with a field trip to see many of the “Dirty Dozen” invasives growing happily in the Blanco State Park in Blanco. A program for removing them from the park is already underway. If you would like to help, please contact the Park.
Coming up is an opportunity to talk to Master Gardeners and learn about Invasive Plants, Firewise, Rainwater Harvesting, and just plain growing good plants. There will be vendors there and plants for sale and much more. It is an All Day Saturday Affair on April 26th from 9-3 in the Johnson City’s City Park on Main Street (Hwy 290). Come join us for Gardening FUN.