Take a walk, remove an invasive plant

The fields of bastard cabbage around Austin might seem too daunting to remove, but Joan Singh, Parks Grounds Manager for the Austin Parks and Recreation Department, has a suggestion. If you’re using a park like Mabel Davis anyway, take a minute to remove an invasive  plant while you’re there.

What’s important to preventing the spread of many invasive plants is to keep them from reseeding, Singh says. Bastard cabbage grows, flowers and goes to seed very quickly, producing vast numbers of tiny seeds. (See photos taken Feb. 18 and March 25 to see how fast bastard cabbage has overtaken a field next to Parker Lane.) It would be best to remove the plant, roots and all, but even just removing the flowering top of a plant can help keep the numbers down in the future.

That’s also true of another invasive plant showing up in the area, Malta star-thistle (Centaurea melitensis), says Singh. It’s easy to recognize because native yellow-flowering thistles are uncommon in this area.

Malta star-thistle is an invasive, non-native plant. Texas has no native thistles with yellow flowers, says Joan Singh with the Austin Parks and Recreation Department.

Individuals can make a difference, though a group effort to remove invasive plants from a park would be ideal. Singh says that if you give her 24 hours’ notice, she can deliver plastic bags to dispose of the plant debris. Get rid of the plants in the trash, because the seeds can spread if they make their way into recycled mulch. Leave bags near trash receptacles in the park, near a trailhead or in another logical place, and let Singh know where they are so that city crews can remove them. You can contact her at joan.singh@austintexas.gov or 974-6044.


About burlyheights

C. Forrest is a longtime resident of Burleson Heights.
This entry was posted in Conservation, Garden & landscape, Parks and recreation and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Take a walk, remove an invasive plant

  1. Ventura Vice says:

    Ever since reading your post regarding bastard cabbage, I’ve seen it e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e! At red lights, I look around – there it is. The “Riverside bend” of I 35 used to be a blanket a bluebonnets. Now? There it is. The bottom of the hill of Burleson where the city used to keep their equipment – there it is. I never even saw it before, now I can’t help but see it everywhere I look.

    • burlyheights says:

      It’s true!

      I’ve gotten so used to seeing it that when I was in the Deep South on business recently, every time I saw a field of yellow flowers, I thought it was bastard cabbage. It wasn’t — luckily, there are some places it hasn’t overtaken yet.

      Then a man who owns a pine plantation told me about the problems he’s having with invasive plants, especially what he called “privet,” also known as ligustrum.

      Of course, they have kudzu, too, the mother of all imported invasives. It was first brought to the U.S. for a Japense garden exhibit at an international exposition in the 19th century. I learned on this trip that the U.S. government encouraged people to plant it to stabilize erosion on the sandy creek banks in the South, not realizing that it would grow a foot a day and envelop everything in sight. Oops! Now it’s even been found in Illinois.

  2. olga b says:

    The statement that no native thistles have yellow flowers is simply not true. Here is one examle is
    cirsium horridium –the yellow thistle
    Which is native to TX, and is a valuable sourse of nectar for butterflies & bumblebees.
    A correction to this article needs to be published.

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