Every spring I go looking for long-tube valerian, aka few-flowered valerian or large-flower valerian (Valeriana pauciflora), a forb of wet wooded areas that sports a stunning inflorescence. In Maryland it’s listed S1/E [see my previous post for definitions]. I know of four distinct populations in the Maryland piedmont.

Last week I was at one of those sites, setting up the camera on the tripod, and while looking around for a good candidate (since the flowers were just starting to bloom and the dappled forest light was making annoying shadows), I noticed a fair amount of garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) and a few star-of-Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum), too.

Those two species are invasive aliens. While garlic mustard is a well-known pest, star-of-Bethlehem gets less attention. The first time I saw it in those woods, maybe seven or eight years ago, there were just a few. But every year, there are more and more.



Here’s a picture of its close cousin, nodding star-of-Bethlehem (Ornithogalum nutans), invading a floodplain in Frederick County.




So anyway, before shooting, I donned this vest and pulled some weeds.

I don’t do this nearly as often as I should. But I took a class, was given a vest, and am therefore allowed to do a certain amount of invasive alien plant removal in a few specified areas. There are so many invasive aliens in those areas that I’ve decided to limit my efforts to places with populations of RTEs (rare, threatened, endangered species).

I’m not sure who originated the Weed Warrior concept, but Carole Bergmann of Montgomery Parks started our local  program in 1999, and there are others in the DMV. If you’re inclined to do some volunteering and make a difference, I urge you to look for a local Weed Warrior group and sign up. At the same time I strongly urge you not to just start pulling weeds. It’s illegal to do so in most public parks, unless you have permission, for a good reason: it’s easy to do real damage to native plant populations if you don’t know what you’re doing. So please, get involved, but do so responsibly.

5 thoughts on “Superhero

  1. At Meadowside Nature Center recently, I was pleasantly surprised to see a good number of blooming showy orchis, as well as violet wood sorrel, dwarf ginseng, pennywort, and other cool plants on a hill that had formerly been fairly unremarkable. The reason? As I learned later when I bumped into a wildflower meetup, the hillside had been painstakingly rehabilitated by the Weed Warriors, and their work had clearly made a difference. Thank you, Weed Warriors!

    • nice! I understand there’s been a huge and largely successful effort to remove lesser celandine from part of Rock Creek Park, but I haven’t checked it out yet.

  2. Oh, I do not want to get started on another rant, but some so called environmentalists recently removed some very big and very old Monterey cypress in Montara because they were a few miles beyond their natural range. The trees were planted during the Victorian period as street trees and naturalized. However, no one knows what the historical range had been. A few miles outside of the range is less of a concern than the bluegum eucalyptus trees which were not cut down!

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