Wildwood’s Invasive Plants: FAQs

Why does Metroparks control invasive plants at Wildwood Preserve?

Metroparks wants to restore and preserve native vegetation in order to maintain ideal wildlife habitat for future generations. Therefore, Metroparks staff and volunteers spend time controlling invasive plants. These plants will eventually destroy native wildlife habitats by:

  • Spreading quickly and forming dense plant “monocultures,” causing imbalance to ecosystems
  • Affecting the amounts of soil nutrients and robbing other plants of moisture
  • Shading/crowding out desired plants nearby; therefore reducing native plant and wildlife species diversity
  • Releasing toxins into the soil
  • Interfering with the overall health of other species
  • Long-term removal of these plants:
  • Increases and promotes plant/animal diversity and improves the health of the habitat
  • Provides a higher quality experience for trail users
  • Decreases future management costs

What types of habitats are being managed for invasive plants at Wildwood?

Most of the work in 2013 will encompass the removal of invasive plants that have moved into the open meadow/prairie areas near the orange, purple and yellow trails. As part of the Oak Openings Region, these open areas are home to many sun-loving rare and endangered plant species, unique butterflies, as well as ground-nesting birds. Removal of invasive plants will allow these habitats to thrive and, in turn, encourage better success for our native wildlife. If left unmanaged, these meadow/prairie areas will quickly grow from woody, invasive shrubs to forested area through a natural process called succession. Mowing, prescribed burning or use of herbicides in these areas will halt the unwanted growth of these invasive plant species and encourage more biodiversity at Wildwood Preserve.

What are non-native, invasive plant species?

Non-native, invasive plants have been introduced to this area from other regions. There are many types of invasive plant species growing in northwest Ohio.

The most common types that can be found throughout Wildwood Preserve Metropark are:

  • Canada Thistle Autumn Olive
  • Glossy/European Buckthorn Honeysuckles
  • Garlic Mustard Asiatic Bittersweet
  • Cow Vetch Reed Canary Grass
  • Siberian Elm Multi-flora Rose
  • Japanese Barberry

Where do non-native, invasive plants come from?

  • Most of these plants were introduced in the last 200 years from Europe and Asia, primarily, for the following reasons:
  • Brought to North America by settlers for their gardens
  • Seeds were present in the ballast holds of European ships that used soil to maintain stability in the open ocean
  • Seeds were brought to feed livestock (example: white clover in 1789)
  • Introduced as “medicinal herbs”
  • Introduced for food and cover for wildlife
  • Some plants normally used for landscaping purposes escape the garden and can become “invasive” in a natural area. (example: types of Privet, Euonymus, Barberry) 

Are some native plants considered “invasive?”

Yes. If left unchecked in certain areas, some woody species like sassafras and red-twig dogwood can become “invasive.”

How are invasive plants successful?

These plants have the capacity of producing extremely large amounts of seed and may also contain rapidly spreading root systems. Parts of the plants and/or seeds can remain in the ground for long periods of time.

How are these invasive plants controlled?

Metroparks uses techniques such as mowing, prescribed burning, hand-pulling, cutting methods, and selective herbicide application to control invasive plants growing in and around natural areas.

How does Metroparks ensure herbicide safety?

When Metroparks decides that the best method of invasive plant control is herbicide application, Metroparks ensures that staff and volunteer herbicide applicators are trained in accordance with State and Federal pesticide laws, and all herbicides used on Metropark lands are registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Overall, what types of land management activities may occur at Wildwood Preserve? Management activities will vary from site to site, although all natural areas may undergo the same type of general treatments (depending on the prescription), which include: 

  • Prescribed burning
  • Removal/control of invasive native and non-native species by mowing, cutting, and herbicide application
  • Seeding of native plants

These activities conducted at various sites are the results of years of practical experience and research on current techniques. Metroparks goal is to successfully plan and implement land management activities in the most efficient, skillful, and professional manner possible to achieve the larger, regional goals set by Metroparks and in conjunction with other preservation agencies.

How can you help?

  • Spread the word to others about invasive species
  • Volunteer to help control invasives
  • Use only native and/or non-invasive plants in
  • gardens and landscape designs
  • Be on the lookout for new populations and make
  • land managers aware
  • Be careful not to transport invasive species
  • Discourage the use of invasive plants
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