Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Sniffing Out Invasives

I take every opportunity to eliminate invasive species from Blue Jay Barrens.  Autumn Olive has been one of my key targets the past few years and I’m closing in on my goal of eliminating all plants of fruit bearing age.  I’ve taken care of the areas of Autumn Olive concentration, but there are still random individual plants that must be dealt with.  These potential fruit producers have just made themselves vulnerable to detection.  They have recently opened their blossoms and released their unmistakable fragrance into the air.  All I have to do is walk around until I cross a scent trail and then follow the odor back to the bush.

Most of the Autumn Olives that I’m finding are crowded in with other shrubs.  Without the fragrance, they would have been difficult to locate. 

A few took advantage of the open environment beneath large cedars.  These shade grown plants are less dense than the typical field grown specimens and are easily camouflaged by the dappled sunlight filtering through the tall evergreens.

The cuttings were carted off to the nearest brush pile.  After wrestling with several flowery Autumn Olives, I became covered with the scent and began smelling Autumn Olive everywhere I went.  Fortunately, it didn’t get so bad that I could no longer find the living shrubs.  The flowers will remain for several more days, so I should be able to track down some more mature shrubs before the scent fades.

Each stump is marked for future herbicide application.  In a few weeks, these stumps should be surrounded by a dozen sprouts at the ideal stage for treating with glyphosate herbicide.


  1. I'm curious about what you call "Autumn Olive" , is this the same plant as the 'Russian Olive' for which the US Government promoted for many years as wildlife habitat restoration plants that eventually went rogue in eastern North America ?

    I have my own issues with Tamarisk trees which have literally ruined prime Riparian Habitat in the west. Although I presently reside in Sweden, I still write about my past experiences in So-Cal mtns where I lived for 24 years. In fact when I was young, I labled myself as a sort of Guerilla Habitat Restorationist long before Guerilla Gardener ever was invented. LOL!

    Hope you succeed here in your irradication efforts.

  2. How about stump treatments, Steve?

  3. Hi Kevin. The Autumn Olive to which I refer is Elaeagnus umbellata. This is the one that produces an abundance of fruit and was promoted by Government Agencies and others as a wonderful wildlife plant. Russian Olive, Elaeagnus angustifolia, was primarily used as an ornamental tree. Both escaped into the wild and are considered invasive. At the moment, Autumn Olive is the most widespread of the two in the North-Eastern U.S.

    Hi James. I’ve done some stump treatments using concentrated glyphosate, but I get the best results when I do a foliar application.

    My primary concern when using any chemical is ground water contamination. Many of the common chemicals used for stump treatments have wording on their chemical labels that suggest ground water contamination would not be a concern. When I reviewed data from some of the actual tests, I found that chemicals sometimes moved 24 to 48 inches into the soil before being converted by soil biota or attached to clay particles. I took that to mean that chemicals applied to shallow soil areas, which describes most of my property, could conceivably move into the ground water.

    I decided long ago to adopt glyphosate as my chemical of choice. I know how and when to apply it for the desired results. Using just one chemical also eliminates the possibility of accumulating a collection of little used chemicals in the corner of the barn.