The Ivy Issue and Mosquitos

Sometimes it really does feel as if English Ivy is taking over the South. Yes it is more attractive and better behaved than Kudzu, but only marginally. At the recent Cullowhee Native Plant Conference,  Eli Dickerson, Ecologist at Fernbank Museum of Natural History in Atlanta talked about Fernbank’s efforts to tackle the years of English Ivy, in his presentation, “Saving an Old Growth Forest from the Vicious Grip of Invasive Plants.”

Fernbank owns a 67 acre urban old growth forest and Eli was hired to restore it to health. Fortunately for Fernbank, they were able to obtain grants to fund this expensive and labor intensive process. And a great deal of their efforts were spent tackling two common Piedmont invasive exotics–English Ivy (Hedera helix) and Monkey Grass (Liriope spicata).

IMG_5435With the help of a private contractor known as Machete Man, Trees Atlanta, and thousands of volunteer hours, they were able to begin to restore parts of the forest. Once the Ivy and Monkey Grass were cleared, Eli’s philosophy is to let nature take its course, and see what will emerge from the existing seed bank. You can see in the before and after photos below the results of all of this effort. If you are visiting Atlanta, I encourage you to visit Fernbank’s Nature Museum. 12c progress photos

Removing mosquito habitat

Controlling or replacing English Ivy and Monkey Grass can also help you with mosquito issues, because most pest control companies will target these areas in your yard with spray. Mosquitos love to live in the moist shady environment provided by this very thick ground cover. If you have felt that it is necessary to spray for mosquitos in your yard and have subsequently noticed fewer butterflies and other pollinators, removing this mosquito habitat might be an option to wide spread spraying, which harms all types of insects including the beneficial ones.

Native Alternatives to English Ivy

Eli Dickerson has graciously allowed us to share Fernbank’s list of native alternatives to English Ivy to help you with ideas for your own back yard.

Native groundcover alternatives to English Ivy:

Pussytoes (Antennaria plantaginifolia)
Carex species (C. plantaginea, C. flaccosperma)                                                     Green-and-Gold (Chrysogonum virginianum)                                                        Mouse-Eared Coreopsis (Coreopsis auriculata)
Galax (Galax urceolata)
Alum Root (Heuchera americana)
Wild Gingers (Hexastylis arifolia and Asarum canadense)                         Partridgeberry (Mitchella )
Moss Phlox or Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata)                                               Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides)
Lyre-leaf Sage (Salvia lyrata)
Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)
Woodland Stonecrop (Sedum ternatum)
Stokes’ Aster (Stokesia laevis)
Foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia)
Moss (many species)

Deciduous groundcover options: Allegheny Spurge (Pachysandra procumbens), Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum), Dwarf Crested Iris (Iris crestata), Deciduous Ginger (Asarum canadense), Broad Beech Fern (Thelypteris hexagonoptera), Hay-scented Fern (Dennstaedtia punctilobula).

Native vine groundcovers: Carolina Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens), Wood Vamp or native Climbing Hydrangea (Decumaria barbara), and Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia).

Compiled by Fernbank Museum of Natural History with resources from Georgia Native Plant Society. November, 2015. For more information, contact Used with permission.

Volunteers Matter

 Mary Ann Harrison, of Catawba Lands Conservancy granted us permission to share her words of thanks to NCNPS volunteers after a morning workday at Catawba Wildflower Glen last week. Thank you also to Jean Wilson for sharing her photos. As a matter of fact I hear the group had so much fun, they are begging to come back and work some more…stay tuned for invasive plant removal day part 2! Volunteers really matter….and  are so very much appreciated. NCNPS Southern Piedmont Chapter needs lots of helping hands in April for Earth Day events April 22 and April 29. Please raise your hand and say yes!

Dear Dedicated Invasive Weed Warriors!

Thank you sincerely for donating your time and your sweat-equity to preserving plant biodiversity for our community.  It was wonderful to meet such a great group of dedicated and hard-working people.  Mary Stauble mentioned to me after the workday, “It was a good feeling to see invasives being removed from such a special spot.  Working together you really see a difference even in a few hours”.  I couldn’t agree more.  Thank you!  Also, a big thank you to Mary Stauble for being such a dedicated steward of the Wildflower Glen and initiating a clean-up like this. 2017-3-3 Catawba Glen clean up (31)

Here is the link that Mary mentioned for the “Green Invaders” video.  It really is an interesting watch!

As promised you all are now famous.  Follow this link to see photos of your smiling faces on our Carolina Thread Trail Facebook page.  Feel free to send me any photos that you would like to add to the album.  You do not need a Facebook account to view these photos.  If you do have a Facebook, feel free to follow us to learn about more outdoor opportunities like this one. 2017-3-3 Catawba Glen clean up (38)

All in all, thank you for preserving plant biodiversity.  Please continue to enjoy land preserved by Catawba Lands Conservancy and consider joining us for future workdays and programs.  This program was organized by Catawba Lands Conservancy to introduce you to the properties that we conserve.  We can’t conserve these places without you.  If you haven’t already, please consider supporting Catawba Lands Conservancy  by becoming a member so that we can continue to protect beautiful places that you love.

I am sincerely happy to have met you all.

Mary Ann Harrison
Program Coordinator
Catawba Lands Conservancy

Leading the Carolina Thread Trail