Luke Barnett introduced today’s speaker, Dr. Janet Salzwedel, Biology Professor for the past 25 years at Adrian College, who spoke about the various plants along the Kiwanis Trail. She had spent a fair amount of time prior to today researching plants, trees and shrubs along this this “very picturesque” 7 mile long trail.
There are many micro habitats along this trail”, she said. In fact, there are over 200 different plants between Curtis and Valley roads alone! The problem was, she said, of those there are native plants (those growing here before European colonization) and also non-native (invasive) plants. Among the invasive plants along the trail include: Japanese Hedge Parsley, Garlic Mustard, Oriental Bittersweet known to have very woody stems and wind around trees and nine others. Native plants that are trees include oaks, maples and aspens.
Among the invasive trees there are: the Tree of Heaven and Black Locust that are spreading very quickly due to their many seeds. In addition to theses, there are various shrubs and vines and herbs (the smallest plants) growing along the trail. Some are native while others are invasive (Autumn Olive, Honeysuckles, and Dame’s Rocket).
Native also along the trail, Janet said, were ferns and horsetails, grasses and rushes right on the edge of the Kiwanis Trail. Some 45 of her students went out in groups she said this past summer to remove a number of the invasive shrubs. The City of Adrian Forrester donated some tolls they could use to clear some of the area, she said.
When clearing land of invasive plants, Janet said, there is always the chance to mistaken them for native ones. The example she cited was the Tree of Heaven which looks very similar to Staghorn Sumac. Both have compound pointed leaves. When you look on the edge of each leaf, however, Sumac has serrated (very fine teeth all the way around) margins. On the Tree of Heaven (shown in photo), the teeth are more “swollen” which are actually glands, Janet said, that distinguish it from the Tree of Heaven.
Important to maintaining the trail, she suggested, would be to have a number of volunteers next spring pull out as much Mustard Garlic plants as they could. Janet offered to train some leaders in being able to identify a number of invasive plants so they could instruct other who would remove them. In an effort to tag and identify trees along the Trail, Janet suggested we start with the largest and older ones first like the Sycamores and Cottonwoods. The next step would be to create a list of things that bloom in the spring, and in the summer and in the fall.
Janet closed by describing the process for removing trees that are invasive along the trail. For trees like Woody Buckhorn types, she suggested they be lopped and treated with herbicides so they don’t spread. Garlic Mustard can easily be pulled, she said.