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Pass the mustard please...

June 17, 2016

"And pass it right out of the preserve! That’s exactly what we’ve been doing this spring on a few Blue Heron Ministries projects and other resource managers have been doing elsewhere. Part of good stewardship is removing non-native, invasive species that plague the integrity of natural areas. The techniques and tools for land stewards are as diverse and involved as herbicide application at the right times, or simply pulling weeds as you do in your home gardens and flowerbeds.

Pulling and removing rids the entire plant from its lock on the soil, plus eliminates this year’s seed production and future plants. An all too common invasive in both disturbed and high-quality sites is garlic mustard. Many of you know it by now, the knee high, tall, slender weed with triangular leaves and small clusters of tiny white flowers, each with four petals in a tiny cross. It is a biennial, producing a basil rosette of kelly-green leaves the first year and then bolts with a tall stalk of many flowers in year two. Talk of many; those flowers produce long, skinny capsules, called siliques, each with two rows of tiny black seeds. Information from the Midwest Invasive Plant Network says one plant can produce up to 3,000 seeds! Yikes, that’s a lot of mustard.

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