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Rhode Island Natural History Survey » Help Pull Stiltgrass in Burlingame
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Events &Invasives &News &Plants dgregg on 07 Aug 2009 02:03 pm

Help Pull Stiltgrass in Burlingame

Volunteers are needed to pull Japanese stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum) at Burlingame State Campground, in Charlestown, RI, Thursday, August 13th, 2009, at 10:00 a.m.

RI Department of Environmental Management Park Naturalist Neil Anthes will lead the charge against this big-time bad guy of the plant world.

Japanese stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum), is an annual grass, native to Southeast Asia. The grass is believed to have arrived in the US in a packing crate of china delivered from Asia, and was first noted in Tennessee in 1919. Since then it has spread north and east.

Japanese stiltgrass can be most readily identified by the iridescent, silvery mid-vein on the upper leaf surface, and the “stilt-like” nature of the roots as they extend down from each leaf node.

microstegium_07_24_09_burlingame1sml.JPGmicrostegium_07_24_09_burlingame2sml.JPG

In Rhode Island, the grass is considered an “early detection” species, of which there are five known locations throughout the state. The Burlingame site is largest of these, and includes locations within the adjacent Audubon Society of RI’s Kimball Refuge. It is found at camp sites and trail sides throughout the campground.

Japanese stiltgrass is of particular concern in forest environments, as it is well adapted to growing in low light conditions. The grass grows rapidly from July to September, forming dense mats, which cover existing native vegetation. Over the course of two seasons, dense stands of Japanese stiltgrass can out compete, and replace native herbaceous species. The grass is tolerant of moist conditions and so has the potential to spread throughout the wetland habitats surrounding the campground and along the Watchaug Pond shoreline. The seeds are buoyant and are easily carried through drainage ditches and streams. The seeds are also equipped with awns at the tip, which facilitate dispersal. The awns attach to bicycle tires, boots treads, animal fur etc. and then are carried further into the surrounding woodland habitat.

Because it is an annual, pulling before seed-set is an effective eradication technique. Removal of the grass by hand is easy, as it has short fibrous roots. August is the ideal time to pull the grass, as most of the seeds have germinated but most plants are only beginning to flower.

Please bring gloves and plenty of water, insect repellent and a lunch.

For more information and to sign up please contact either Neil Anthes via email at the following address: undefinedrecords@yahoo.com or Hope Leeson at the Rhode Island Natural History Survey (401) 874-5800, or hleeson@rinhs.org

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