Be Cautious of What's Greening Up in Your Yard

Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca)
With our late spring and cool temperatures not many natives are emerging from the woodlands other than a few spring ephemerals. There are some suspect plants that are very green in the woodland openings and partially shaded areas however. Many of these are invasive exotics.

Invasive exotic plants tend to have higher photosynthetic rates, greening up much earlier than most native species. (Source) This was evident while walking in the woods yesterday, the only green herbaceous plants were Garlic Mustard, Creeping Charlie, Motherwort and Catnip.

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)
This is a huge advantage for these exotic plants, growing, flowering and producing seed before many native species get a chance to and ultimately displacing them from their habitat.

Another competitive advantage for garlic mustard is that the rosettes develop large tap roots that act as food reserves allowing the plant to adapt to many conditions from very dry to wet.

Red Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa)
Exotic honeysuckles are also beginning to leaf out, much earlier than most other native woody species. Our native Elderberries and Currants are some of the few native woody species to leaf out as early as exotic honeysuckles.

We can take advantage of the early emergence of these invasives, for it is easier to see and remove them now before they blend with native species, flower and produce vast quantities of seed.

What invasive exotics green up early in your area?