Restoring the Olentangy’s plant life: Keep out invaders

phragmites 2The removal of the Fifth Avenue dam on the Olentangy River is great for aquatic ecosystems and will increase central Ohio’s plant and animal biodiversity. The river’s banks will be heavily disturbed and will offer new, fresh territory for plants to propagate and succeed. Wind, water, and even birds will contribute to the spread of seeds. Native vegetation, however, can’t become established when outcompeted by invasive non-native plants, some of which may include bush honeysuckle, narrow-leaved cattail, and common reed, or phragmites, which is pictured.

Our plant-related recommendations for the river’s restoration:

• Use native plants in the landscaping.

• Lobby legislators concerning quarantine areas and invasive species legislation

• Read. Field guides and other books (such as this one by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden) show invasive plants to guard against and native plants to consider growing.

• Volunteer — with groups such as the Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed (FLOW).

• Sign up for a central Ohio newsletter or email list related to gardening, landscaping, invasive species, and/or the river. FLOW, for instance, has a newsletter (pdf).

Invasive plants’ seeds can travel fast and far on hiking boots, running shoes, garden equipment, bike tires, kayaks, canoes, and boats. So clean your equipment before travelling to new areas.

Invasive plant colonization usually involves an initial population quickly seeding then plateauing in numbers of the population.

Ohio State’s Department of Horticulture and Crop Science will be offering a course introducing such topics as controlling, identifying, and monitoring invasive plant species along the Olentangy corridor. It will be an exciting course involving lots of time on task along the river.

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