Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Multiflora Rose Clearing Site

This is the site where I went in last winter and cleared out my last really big patch of Multiflora Rose. Instead of a mass of invasive shrubs, I now have a nice mix of native vegetation. I think it was well worth the scratches and blood loss required to get the job done.

Last year at this time, a shot from this position would have shown a solid wall of Multiflora Rose leaves directly in front of the camera. I came in here twice during the spring and sprayed glyphosate on all the rose sprouts I could find. I must have done a pretty good job, because there are no rose canes sticking above the other plants. An untreated rose stump would have eight foot canes by now. I’m not na├»ve enough to believe there aren’t any little roses in there, but I’m happy with the degree to which they’ve been knocked back.

My favorite part is the mass of Jewelweed that now blankets much of the area. Jewelweed is an annual that has been here in low numbers in the past. The ground beneath the roses must have been covered with seed just waiting for its chance to grow.

The bright orange flowers remind me of molten lava. Even in the shady habitat preferred by this plant, the flowers shine as if on fire.

The deep flower with its curled tail forces nectaring insects to go far into the tube for a meal. This insures good contact with the flower’s reproductive parts and increases the chances of successful pollination.

Of course, some animals are designed to easily access these deep flowers. Several Hummingbirds were utilizing this patch.

An interesting feature of Jewelweed is its method of seed dispersal. The pods are composed of several thick strips that are joined by a thin seam. As the seeds reach maturity, the seams weaken and eventually part. The break in the seam allows the thick strips to curl rapidly and sling the seeds away from the plant. Some other plants utilize this same technique, but Jewelweed pods are larger and make a more interesting display.

Remnants of an exploded pod. Tapping or squeezing the pods can initiate the explosion and seeds are ejected with surprising force. I once saw a naturalist demonstrate this phenomenon to a group of college students. Following the demonstration, one student put his face down close to the plants and then tapped a pod with his finger to make it explode. There was no permanent damage to his eyes, but I remember the naturalist making a comment about stupid college kids.

It’s really fun to walk past this site and observe native plants and animals. I didn’t really think that the site would respond so quickly to the removal of the Multiflora Rose. I guess there were a lot of stunted plants hidden in there just waiting for me to release them.


  1. The jewelweed is such a pretty little flower. I don't believe I've noticed it before. I really enjoy your blog.

  2. Thanks, Lois. Jewelweed usually grows in moist shaded places. Some people plant it in the less manicured areas of their yards.

  3. Great series and interesting about the caterpillars. I'm a big bug person myself. Do you get pink 'Policemen's Helmet' there? It's another type of Jewell weed which we have in Maine.

  4. Thanks, Robin. We don't have the Policemen's Helmet in Ohio. There is another species that's very similar to what I pictured, except that the flower is yellow.