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Forest Friends Battle Invasive Plants


Sixty-two percent of Virginia’s land is forested, but experts warn that our trees and ground cover are under attack from aggressive, non-native plants. There are hundreds of groups fighting back nationwide, but here in Virginia only one.

The forests of Virginia are beautiful, and millions of people visit each year to hike and camp under the trees, but danger is lurking. 

“We worry about oriental bittersweet, Japanese honeysuckle, mile-a-minute, five-leaf akibia, kudzu,” says Tim Maywalt with Blue Ridge Regional Invasvie Species Management or PRISM. “Fortunately there is not a ton of kudzu around, but there is some around, and it’s a very difficult one to deal with.”

The group actually has a list of what it calls the Dirty Dozen – twelve especially aggressive species that rob native plants of water, nutrients and sunlight. Among them the Tree of Heaven which some gardeners call the tree from hell.

"If you just cut it and don’t treat it with an herbicide, you don’t just get one back,”Maywalt explains. “The entire root system of this tree would bring up what are called root sprouts, so you cut one down, and you get 50 back.”

And one tree can produce 350,000 seeds in a year. That’s why PRISM is mobilizing -- offering a free workshop on safe use of herbicides next Wednesday and has scheduled a second class on coping with invasives after one this month sold out.   

You can find more information and details on how to sign up for future classes here.

Sandy Hausman is Radio IQ's Charlottesville Bureau Chief
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