Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Outlaw Band of Roses Discovered

Snow on the ground made it easy to see the unmistakable curve of Multiflora Rose canes.  Without the white background, the large bushes would have easily blended with their surroundings and eluded detection.  They have apparently effectively done that for several years.

It was quite a surprise to come upon this collection of nasties, sort of like walking in on the Hole in the Wall Gang.  I thought my earlier rose removal efforts had taken care of this area.  I was obviously mistaken.

The group of about a dozen bushes is located on this narrow strip of floodplain along the creek.  In an area as open as this, there are no excuses for not noticing those roses.  There may be no excuse, but I bet there’s a reason.

A few years ago, I spent a lot of time clearing Multiflora Rose bushes from this stream corridor.  According to my notes, I worked toward this area from upstream.  Instead of keeping to the streambank, I followed a terrace that begins in the upper left of this photo and diverges from the creek into the cedars.  I stopped work because of darkness and failed to make it back to this area because of weather conditions.  These bushes were never noticed, despite the fact that they are located very near to an established and often used walking trail.

This is the view of the roses from the trail.  Dead limbs and a mass of grape vines fell into a thicket just at the point where the trail turns 90 degrees and heads up the hill towards the woods.  There’s no way to see the roses through the tangle.

Fortunately, the rose canes all have a strong lean to the north, so the base of each bush is easy to access.  I’ll make it a point to get out here and cut these bushes before they begin their spring growth.

A couple of the rose bushes are showing growth characteristics consistent with infection by the Rose Rosette disease that was predicted to decimate the Multiflora Rose population back in the early 1990’s.  The disease will definitely kill roses, but it is almost impossible to spread from plant to plant.  The carrier is a tiny mite that apparently doesn’t travel well.  I’ve managed to transmit the disease by clipping branches from the infected individuals and setting them into healthy plants.  Even then it takes several years for the disease to kill a large bush.  The disease persists, but I’ve given up hope that it will rid us of Multiflora Rose.

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