We are asking all Rugby friends to come volunteer on Saturday, March 15th, for a fun day of outside work removing invasive plants in the Rugby State Natural Area.

Coordinated with Lisa Huff, East Tennessee Stewardship Ecologist with the State Natural Areas Program, these workdays help curb the growth of invasive plants that threaten native plant communities here on the Cumberland Plateau.

There are many invasive plants in and around Rugby and the Rugby State Natural Area (RSNA) but this workday will concentrate on Japanese spiraea (Spiraea japonica L.f.), a perennial shrub that flowers in late May and early June. Japanese spiraea is native to Japan and was first cultivated in 1870. Introduced as an ornamental landscape plant prized for its rose-colored flowers, spiraea spread from the northeast U.S. and is naturalized in much of the southeast and Midwest, including Tennessee. It is listed as a significant threat by the Tennessee Exotic Pest Plant Council.* http://www.tneppc.org/invasive_plants/88

According to the Plant Conservation Aliance’s Alien Plant Working Group: “Japanese spiraea can rapidly take over disturbed areas. Growing populations creep into meadows, forest openings, and other sites. Once established, spiraea grows rapidly and forms dense stands that outcompete much of the existing native herbs and shrubs. Seeds of Japanese spiraea last for many years in the soil, making its control and the restoration of native vegetation especially difficult**. **http://www.nps.gov/plants/ALIEN/fact/spja1.htm

Benita Howell has coordinated many of the workdays with Lisa Huff on behalf of Historic Rugby. She describes the work done by volunteers:

“For the last four or five years, we have concentrated on the Massengale loop trail, especially areas along and above the stream on both sides of the loop. That’s because we have learned from Lisa that mature seeds are carried downhill and downstream in water to colonize new areas.

Because of the way these plants grow, we’re usually off trail, climbing up and down hillsides and in the marshy land along stream banks, but once people have learned to identify Japanese spiraea, most plants can be uprooted with moderate strength. Everyone needs sturdy, waterproof footwear and work gloves. A couple of mattocks or sharp fire hoes for the group can get out the tough plants that can’t be pulled. We put the plants in contractor garbage bags, or pile them on tarps and pull those up to the staging area where trucks are parked, then haul plants to the burn pile for disposal.”

Please come help us get rid of a plant that has gained a foothold in the Rugby State Natural Area, preventing our native plant communities to thrive!

We also have a full day of hikes planned and the unveiling of a new Hike Rugby! Hidden Trails brochure in honor of Eric Wilson.

See Special Hiking Event on March 15th for details