Biologists Tackle Invasive Wavyleaf Basketgrass in South River Greenway
Wavyleaf basket grass before (top) and after treatment.
Inset: Wood thrush. Photo by Steve Maslowski.
Although it doesn’t look threatening, wavyleaf basketgrass, a plant normally found in southern Europe and southeast Asia, threatens one of the largest undeveloped areas in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Five years ago this plant was discovered on county land to be used for recreation as well as wildlife habitat in the South River Greenway. Biologists determined that the area should not be open to for public use until the invasive threat was brought under control.
What makes this invasive plant such a high priority for control is its ability to create a monoculture, excluding all other native herbaceous plants that our local wildlife needs for food and habitat. This is due to its exceptionally sticky seeds which spread the plant easily and quickly. Wavyleaf basketgrass is also suspected of hindering woody plants which can impact an already declining oak population.
Currently an estimated 34-38 acres within the South River Greenway are covered by this highly competitive and aggressive plant. Spraying began three years ago and has occurred every year after. A study testing the effectiveness of the herbicide proved it be to highly effective, reducing coverage of the plant by 80% However, small patches persist and are the focus of current and future control efforts.
Chesapeake Bay Field Office biologists are working with contractors to safely apply an herbicide to control large patches as well as hand-pulling smaller patches to reduce the use of chemicals.
Coordination with Anne Arundel County Department of Parks and Recreation will help to organize larger volunteer efforts to monitor, manage and curb the expansion of wavyleaf basketgrass.
Once this invasive plant is under control, Chesapeake Bay Field Office will focus on other methods for restoring and improving wildlife habitat while the county works on creating recreational opportunities for the local community.