Spring is a time of awakening for the wildflowers we love to observe. Black-eyed susans, asters, and yarrow add splashes of color to roadsides as we meander through the mountainous terrain. Observing long stretches of wildflowers along highways is just as eye-pleasing as the views we glimpse through the trees. Other species also grow and bloom this time of year, including non-native, invasive species. One such invasive species is the infamous garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata), so named for its garlicky flavor. Garlic mustard is native to Europe, but can now be found throughout much of the U.S. Originally cultivated for its culinary uses, the plant quickly escaped captivity and established a widespread presence across a multitude of landscapes.
Having no predators, garlic mustard is a major threat to ecosystem integrity by reducing biodiversity and outcompeting native plants by monopolizing resources such as sunlight and water. Wildlife species that depend on native plants for foliage, pollen, nectar, fruits, seeds and roots, are deprived of these essential food sources when garlic mustard replaces them. Herbivores dislike its garlicky taste. They leave it to flourish; preferring to nibble on other plants and inadvertently disperse the seeds which stick to their coats, further compromising native plant populations.
Seeds are viable in the soil for up to five years. A single plant can produce approximately 1,000 seeds, which scatter up to several meters away from the parent plant. In addition to wildlife, seeds are also dispersed by shoes, clothing, and even car tires. Removing garlic mustard from thoroughfares such as Roan Mountain State Park and public roadsides is crucial to controlling the establishment and spread of this invasive species. Eradicating garlic mustard is easy, but it takes time and persistence.
This year, SAHC is partnering with Roan Mountain State Park, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and AmeriCorps Project Conserve to remove garlic mustard from the park, heavily trafficked highways around Carver’s Gap, and SAHC properties such as Big Rock Creek. Come join us!
Where: Meet at Roan Mountain State Park at 9:30am. Volunteers will be briefed, divided into groups, and dispersed across the Park and along public roadsides.
When: April 18, 2015 beginning at 9:30am. We will work from 9:30am-12:00pm. Lunch is from 12:00-1:00pm. Garlic mustard pesto with bread/crackers is provided as an appetizer. After 1:00pm, there are two options to chose from for the afternoon.
Afternoon Option 1: Intrepid volunteers continue to work from 1:00-2:30pm.
Afternoon Option 2: From 1-1:30pm join an AmeriCorps educational opportunity regarding agriculture. From 1:30-3:30pm is a moderately paced hike up to and along the Appalachian Trail. Anticipated distance is 3-4 miles.
Contact: To join us as a volunteer, please RSVP to Andrea Thompson, AmeriCorps Stewardship Associate, firstname.lastname@example.org, (828) 253-0095 ext 212. We can use all the hands we can get!