Friday, March 27, 2009

Eating for the Forest Health

It appears that in addition to gleaning every last sunflower seed that has fallen beneath the bird feeders, our resident gray squirrels also like the new growth on the wild rose species, Rosa multiflora Thunberg. This is a good thing, I think. The deer also eat the soft spring growth on this invasive species. The plant has been declared a noxious weed in at least 10 states. It was planted as an ornamental back in the 1800's introduced from Asia, and because it did not have natural enemies it has taken over many acres. It was used for erosion control, ornamental hedging, etc.

A single plant can produce a half million reproductive achenes and these can lie dormant and then come back even twenty years after removal of the mother plant. I have seen this plant crawl its way up trees reaching a height of 20 feet or more. In this photo below all of the lime green is the wild rose population after our soaking rain yesterday. I wish I had taken a photo of the gray ravine just two days ago prior to this outburst of color. You can see the lawn of my neighbor in the top part of the photo.

We have tried to clear the plants in our small acreage, but this rose fights a nasty fight and we end up more wounded than the plant. We avoid herbicides as we are on the river.

And as a bonus to those who read to the bottom of this post, here is the gray squirrel with another new spring bud of a tree to munch on almost looking as though he is at a Karaoke bar! No?

4 comments:

Dave King said...

New growth on the roses seems generally popular: the birds are feeding happily on ours - especially the tits.

Annie in Austin said...

It's good to know squirrels are good for something! I've only read about this invasive rose, Tabor - don't think I ever saw it.

What a wonderful series of photos and stories you're posting! Love the woodpeckers and the molty goldfinch.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Sky said...

great post, tabor. good luck with getting rid of the invader! the squirrels are just adorable. even when they eat our spring bulbs i can't stay mad for long!

Kerri said...

I read all the way to the end of the post :) Yes, your squirrel does look like he's at a karaoke bar :)
We have the multiflora up here too. It has the lovliest scent and the white flowers are so pretty. Too bad it's such a thug.
Eat lots little squirrel!