Monday, May 22, 2006

The Bloomin’ Hawthorne Tree

The Hawthorne bushes are blooming. The Hawthorne variety here exhibits a flower that is very similar to apple and is very short lived. The blossoming apple tree that I photographed just over a week ago is still partially in bloom whereas the hawthorns started blooming about two days ago and are already dropping their petals. With the steady rain that we have had it as been difficult to get a good picture before the flower started to disappear. A picture of the tree shows nothing after what was left after the heavy rains so here is a picture of a blossom instead.

I have been trying to identify which Hawthorne species we have but apparently there are hundreds of varieties. It will take a much more concerted effort to identify it exactly. I have a few leaves from the tree but they look very similar to several varieties on the field guide and too different yet for positive identification. I will need to examine the characteristics of rest of the tree further for a definitive identification.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


One tends to fear those things unkown more than anything. The purple loosestrife episode is behind me. In the past I covered considerable posts on purple loosestrife which is now happily under control due to an introduced beetle. This spring when the beetle emerges I will post a photo of it now that I have the means to take close up photos.

My new invasive species project will be on garlic mustard. I have for the last day or so spent considerable time finding out how to properly dispose of the garlic mustard plants.

The Andirondack Park Invasive Plant Program is one of the best sites I have found so far. See: It also provides a best management practices that you can down load as a word document. It also covers a number of other invasive plants that do not seem to be too much of a problem here, like Japanese Knotweed.

I have cut and pasted a portion of the text from document BMPs3-06 Appendix A, of the above website entitled Best Management Practices.



Garlic mustard is a naturalized European biennial herb that typically invades partially shaded forested and roadside areas. It is capable of dominating the ground layer and excluding other herbaceous species. Its seeds germinate in early spring and develops a basal rosette of leaves during the first year. Garlic mustard produces white, cross-shaped flowers between late April and June of the following spring. Plants die after producing seeds, which typically mature and disperse in August. Normally its seeds are dormant for 20 months and germinate the second spring after being formed. Seeds remain viable for up to 7 years.


1. Pulling.

Hand pulling is an effective method for removing small populations of garlic mustard, since plants pull up easily in most forested habitats. It is best to pull plants when seed pods are not yet mature, but they can be pulled during most of the year.

Soil should be tamped down firmly after removing the plant. Soil disturbance can bring existing garlic mustard seed bank to the surface, thus creating a favorable environment for additional germination within the control site.

Care should be taken to minimize soil disturbance but to remove all root tissues. Re-sprouting may occur from mature plants root systems if not entirely removed. Cutting is preferred to pulling when garlic mustard infestations are interspersed amongst native grasses/forbs or other sensitive or rare flora.

If plants have capsules present, they should be bagged and disposed of to prevent seed dispersal. Bag all plant parts & remove from site (compost at DOT Residency, dispose of in approved landfill or incinerate with appropriate permits).

Clean all clothing, boots, & equipment to prevent spread of seed.

2. Cutting

Cutting is effective for medium-to large-sized populations depending on available time and labor resources. Dormant seeds in the soil seed bank are unaffected by this technique due to minimal disturbance of the soil.

Cut stems when in flower (late spring/early summer) at ground level either manually (with clippers or a scythe) or with a motorized string trimmer. This technique will result in almost total mortality of existing plants and will minimize re-sprouting.

Cuttings should be conducted annually for 5 to 7 years or until the seed bank is depleted.

Cut stems should be removed from the site when possible since they may produce viable seed even when cut. Bag all plant parts & remove from site (compost at DOT Residency, dispose in approved landfill or incinerate with appropriate permits).

Clean all clothing, boots, & equipment to prevent spread of seed.

3. Herbicide

Roundup will not affect subsequent seedling emergence of garlic mustard or other plants.

Use glyphosate formulations only. Should be applied after seedlings have emerged, but prior to flowering of second-year plants. Application should be by spray bottle or wick applicator for individual spot treatments.

This herbicide is not selective (kills both monocots & dicots), thus should be applied carefully to prevent killing of non-target species. All tank mixes should be mixed with clean (ideally distilled) water because glyphosate binds tightly to sediments, which reduces toxicity to plants.
Do not apply in windy conditions because spray will drift and kill other plants. Do not apply if rain is forecast w/in 12 hours because herbicide will be washed away before it can act. Choose Rodeo® formulation for applications in standing water or along a shoreline.


Saturday, May 20, 2006

The Chokecherry is in Bloom

I have been noticing a small shrub along the roadside in my commutes to and from work that has an interesting flower pattern. From a distance the flower arrangement looks like a tree or shrub of little white tubes. In my morning stroll in the rain today, - it has been raining for two weeks straight now – I found the same shrub and took some branches home for identification. The branches are alternate. The leaves looked a lot like Buckthorn but the flowers distinctively were not. A little research and help from my friend Carroll we zeroed in on the Chokecherry [Prunus Virginiana L. var virginiana] which it definitely is. The flowers make a nice arrangement in a vase.

Have not found any more garlic mustard in the woodlot thankfully.

Attack of the Garlic Mustard in the Woodlot

With much concern I discovered Garlic Mustard [Alliaria petiolata (Bieb.) Cavara & Grande] on our property last night for the first time. It took hold in a patch along the eastern edge of our driveway presumably carried in by the dirt on the tires or on the car. For the time being the contamination seems to be confined to a roughly circular area no more than three metres (10 feet) across. This morning I have pulled all the flowering plants from the patch and will now watch it diligently. I also noticed stalks of the plant that probably grew there last year. There are many rosettes that have taken hold in small garbage can lid sized clearings.

The book Ontario Weeds (reprinted February, 2001), By J.F. Alex, published by Ontario Ministry of Ariculture, Food and Rural Affairs, to order see ) devotes a full page on the plant. It states that Garlic Mustard only reproduces by seed so I will watch the flower development and keep plucking them.

For more info there are many websites on this invasive weed such as:
The flower of the Garlic Mustard is easily recognised by its small white cross shape as in the photograph here. The flowers in this photo range from 8mm to 10 mm. (approx. 5/16 to3/8 in.) across.

In the urban parts of the City of Ottawa especially downtown this invasive weed has completely taken over the gardens especially in the greenspace areas along the edge of the river. I am curious to know what the City or the National Capital Commission – custodian for much of Ottawa’s greenspace – are going to do about it. It has spread there to epidemic proportions and in time I fear that it will spread out to here to a degree where it will no longer be manageable. In other words it will start creeping in from the neighbouring lots which are uninhabited and which I have no control over.

Garlic Mustard will completely take over ground cover areas in forests and choke out natural indigenous species. Thus it has a very negative effect on forest biodiversity. Also a recent article claims that the plant kills fungi in the ground that are essential for the growth of trees such the Sugar Maple. For a story on this see:

This plot was weedable but I was still not able to remove all the rosettes. They are quite small and planted among rocks which is hard to get at. Some of the larger plants broke off at the root since the roots were firmly embedded among the rocks. I will watch them to see if they will sprout.

Let’s hope that it will be a long time before more of this scourge really arrives.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Nature’s own Floral Displays or perhaps an Introduced Pioneer Apple Tree

This is a picture of one of a dozen or so apple trees that seem to be haphazardly planted around this woodlot. Most of them bear a small tart apple. Yet one apple tree near the middle of the woodlot bore a yellow-green apple with a rusty hue and rough texture, which I believe is identified as the russet. It produced apples in abundance one year but very few before or since. I tasted one that was probably not ripe yet as it was still sour. I figured that the pioneers probably thought it was great for pies or preserves or something. The russet I am told is a true pioneer apple and I mean pioneer in the sense that the early settlers introduced it. The adjective “pioneer” should not be confused with pioneer trees such as poplars and birches which tend to be the first to take root in clearings and prepare the soil for subsequent higher quality trees like oaks and maples.

I was not even aware of this little apple tree in the photo, until I had cleared out the Manitoba Maples [Acer negundo L.] a.k.a. box-elder (particularly in the US), or Ashleaf maple, that choked out the surrounding area. The tree was completely taken over and dominated by Manitoba Maples. These Maples are locally ranked in the “Soft Maple” category since the wood is indeed not very sound, but they grow profusely. This year the apple tree has come out in full bloom as the photo depicts. It is a lovely celebration of its release.

Another beautiful flowering tree is the Hawthorne, which are abundant in this woodlot along the edges of clearings. Their time to flower has yet to come. Stay tuned.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

A Fat Starnose Mole, Page 2 of 2.

According to my trusty Peterson Field Guide “A Field Guide to the Mammals – Field Marks of all Species found north of the Mexican boundary” by William Henry Burt and Richard Philip Grossenheider, The Riverside Press – Houghton Mifflin Co., Cambridge, MASS. 1964, the Starnose mole is recognized as follows: Head and body, 4 ½ - 5 in.: tail 3-3 ½ in.; wt, 1 1/5 – 2 4/5 oz.

So this mole is within but at the upper end of the range for what this mole should be. 2 4/5 oz is exactly what I weighed this one at. You can see the length of the mole from the pictures with the scale shown.

This field guide was my first field guide, a birthday present in 1965 on my 13th birthday. It still seems as accurate today as it was then.

A Fat Star Nosed Mole, Page 1 of 2.

This evening after a walk in the woodlot, as I arrived at the house, I found a dead starnose mole [Condylura cristata] at the base of the stairs to the back deck. The mole seemed awful big, but then not being familiar with the species, it may well be normal. I placed the ruler in the photo to get some idea how large it is. It weighed about 85 grams (~2.8 oz.) using a letter weigh scale. It has a smoky black fur of a very fine texture.

Page 2 has a picture of the mole from the other side. This may seem a little gory and not the most pleasant for some but then it is really quite unusual and might be interest others.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Sudden blossoming of the Serviceberry

Sudden blossoming of the Serviceberry

This morning the Serviceberry [Amerlancier spp.] shrubs suddenly appeared in bloom. I was expecting them soon and during our drive last Sunday we were actively looking for them, so their blossoms did arrive it was quite sudden. In these parts it is common to see the white spots of the blossoms along the forest edges of various woodlots in the area. Just as is pictured you can easily make out the white blossoms from a good distance against the grey background of the still unfoliated woodlot.

I made the identification of this shrub after looking up the plant in "Weeds of the Woods - Small trees and Shrubes of the Eastern Forest", by Glen Bouin, Goose Lane Editions, Fredericton, New Brunswick, ISBN 0-86492-127-6.