Nine volunteers waged war in a 1 acre floodplain at Cedar Bluff an annex of Ferne Clyffe State Park.
In two hours on March 31, they removed four 50-pound feed sacks of invasive garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata).
• Master Gardeners — Patricia Powell, Stephanie Sappington, Jim Todd and Beckie Wisdom;
• Master Naturalists — William Clifton and Linda Helstern;
• Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) volunteer Abagail Gerrish and IDNR natural heritage biologist Christina Feng; and
• Extension program coordinator Kimberly Rohling.
Garlic mustard has allelopathic compounds which prevent germination of the state's native understory flora. Patches of the invasive species displace native plants and reduce diversity which translates into fewer resources for wildlife.
Garlic mustard is easy to identify by smell — the plants release a garlic odor when crushed.
One second-year plant can produce 165 to 868 seeds, which can survive in the soil up to seven years before repeating their life cycle.
“Controlling invasive species is vitally important to the conservation of native biodiversity and the healthy functioning of native ecosystems,” Feng said. “We focused on controlling one of these — garlic mustard — in a floodplain and mesic upland forest. Left unchecked, garlic mustard can replace the dozens of native wildflower species at this site, creating a dense monoculture, reducing floral resources for native pollinators and herbivores, and inhibiting the growth of tree saplings.”
The March 31 even was supported by a partnership with IDNR and University of Illinois Extension.
“A special thanks to all the participants who helped pull garlic mustard,” Feng said.
For more information about becoming a Master Gardener or Master Naturalist, contact Rohling at email@example.com.