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Jr. Rangers Awarded Grant to Replant Native Species in Oglebay Park

For those of you who haven’t been following the process of our junior ranger grant project, we have been awarded $100 to pull out invasive plant species and replant native ones in the area.  We started replanting trees by digging holes for arrowwood viburnum seeds.  Then we took tree cuttings from box elder, red osier dogwood, and arrowwood viburnum and dipped them in rooting compound and put them in pots.  Today we dug holes to plant our native species of trees in.  While digging we noticed that 4 native species (wingstem, poke weed, White Ash, and box elder) were starting to grow where we cleared privet.

Poke Weed

Phytolacca americana is the scientific name for Pokeweed, which is native to North America. It is a herbaceous perennial plant. Pokeweed can grow up to ten feet in height. This plant is highly toxic to livestock and humans, that’s why deer probably won’t eat it. Pokeweed plants are usually found in edge habitats, meaning they are on the edge of forests where there is lots of sun and disturbed areas. That is why pokeweed is growing in the area we pulled privet.

White Ash

Acer negundo commonly known as Box Elder, is a species of tree that is part of the maple family.  It grows from 10 to 25 meters tall and stays less than 1 meter in diameter.  The Box Elder is fully dioecious, meaning separate male and female trees are required for reproduction.  It grows across the United States and Canada, even as far south as Guatemala.  It is generally a bottom land tree, meaning it grows on heavy wet soils, and requires full sun to partial shade.

White Ash (Fraxinus americana) is native to the Eastern North America from Nova Scotia to Florida, and west to Texas.  It grows up to 25 meters tall and grows very rapidly in hardwood forest gaps.  It readily grows in high light and well drained areas.

Wingstem

The fourth plant we found, Wingstem (Verbesina alternifolia), is a very tall perennial herbaceous plant that can reach up to 3 meters tall and has bright yellow flowers.  It prefers pasture, field and roadside habitats with high light, and is found from the East Coast to Texas.  Some people consider it weedy, but we consider any native plant an upgrade from privet.

The discovery of these plants is good news, because it shows that native plants are growing back where we removed an invasive species.  Even though we plan to plant some tree in the area, these native pioneers will help stop privet from re-invading the area before our planted trees get large! ~Jr. Ranger Trail Team

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