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June’s Work: Japanese stiltgrass and chaff flower

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In June, the Team for Healthy Parks focuses on Japanese stiltgrass and chaff flower removal to promote biodiversity in the parks!

Japanese stiltgrass, also known as Microstegium vimineum, is an invasive plant species that poses a threat to natural areas in our parks.  Our Team for Healthy Parks usually finds it growing in shaded or partially shaded areas of forests, stream banks, and roadsides. Its lance-shaped leaves sometimes have a silver stripe down the center and the stems arch outward from the base, resembling a stilt.

We aim for control early in the season, before the plant is able to set seed for the year.  This is especially important since a single plant can produce up to 1,000 seeds in a year! Using an integrated management approach, we can knock back stiltgrass and promote a more diverse and healthy understory.

Chaff flower, known as Achyranthes japonica, is another invasive plant species that poses a threat to natural areas.  It loves disturbed habitats like roadsides and trails and produces small greenish-white flowers arranged in dense spikes, followed by clusters of seeds that mature in late summer.

These seeds love to stick to clothes and animal fur, making the plant spread very quickly, especially along trails.  In early summer, the Team for Healthy Parks begin managing areas with chaff flower, hoping to keep it from producing those sticky seeds.  As the summer goes on, we’ll revisit woodland areas, pushing farther off the trails to target patches that are trying to invade less-travelled areas.  You can help by staying on the trails and removing seeds from yourself and your pets when you’re moving between parks.

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