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Conservation Commission

Posted on: June 16, 2022

Nightmare Knotweed. The Story on 381 North Street

Knotweed 1

Nightmare Knotweeds.  The Story on 381 North Street

William Pabon, Environmental Affairs intern


The North Street Pollinator Pathway site, 381 North Street, is a beautiful area of land located along a busy road. Classified as a wetland, it is unique as it is important, offering homes to many creatures and plants that can only exist in the conditions found there. A variety of life thrives in North Street, from deer carefully trotting around plants to the isopods busy within their hidden world underneath the leaf litter. It is truly a bustling, prosperous ecosystem nestled in a soothing area of nature and green. However, there is an invasion taking place. 


Invasive species such as multiflora rose, mugwort, burning bush, and Japanese knotweed are choking out native plants and populating the area. If no action is taken, then the once natural area of North Street with be void of natives and become a breeding ground for invasives which offer little to no benefit to the environment. The worst of these invasive plants is Japanese knotweed. Knotweed can grow in a variety of areas ranging from different soil types to cracks in asphalt; they regenerate from root systems despite having their stems and leaves cut from previous seasons, and they are even able to grow from a single piece of broken stem. They grow around and on top of native plant species, robbing them of nutrition and light and are not favored as food for herbivores such as deer and rabbits. The hazard of such aggressive invasive species threatens biodiversity of the area they are invading. 


Biodiversity, the variety of life in each area, is important for the balance of an ecosystem. When the balance is thrown off, an area becomes destitute and overall bland. The variety of native plants such as ferns, shrubs, flowers, and trees work together to keep the North Street Pollinator Pathway site alive and beautiful, teeming with insects, birds, and mammals of varying roles and equal importance. Native flowers such as the great blue lobelia and trout lily produce flowers which help pollinators such as bees and butterflies. Native shrubs such as chokeberries and high bush/low bush blueberries provide food for rabbits, deer, and birds. Finally, native trees such as red maple and American elm trees provide a canopy and shade to regulate temperatures and provide homes for animals and clean oxygen for the surrounding area. 


All this raises the question, “what can we do to stop this invasion?”. Knotweed needs long-term, meticulous attention to eradicate. Chemical herbicide is fast and effective; however, due to the proximity of a nearby schools, chemicals can’t be used. The best method? Grabbing a group of friends and taking the fight to knotweed with gloved hands armed with the proper tools. What is better than a day out in the forest on a warm sunny day with friends making a difference in the present for the future? In my personal experience, not much.  

           

For more information on invasive plants and management methods, conservation programs and methods, and ways to get involved please visit the conservation section of the Town of Greenwich website at: https://www.greenwichct.gov/286/Conservation   

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