Monday, March 28, 2011

Distinguising Invasive Plants and Native Look-a-Likes

        You might remember a blog post from us a few months back on "Spotting Invasive Plants".  If not, you can read it here -
        Now with all of the snow gone it's time to start spotting those invasive species again! Before you can go out and remove them however, it's important to be able to correctly identify invasive species from native "look-a-likes".  Well, you're in luck! Aton Forest, Inc. and Highstead Arboretum are sponsoring two 1-day invasive plant workshops on Friday, April 1 and Friday, April 8, one in Fairfield County and the other in Litchfield County. The workshops will be taught by Bill Moorhead, a consulting field botanist.  Both workshops will include work in the field or lab (depending on the weather),and will focus on distinguising invasive plants from similar native plants in the field in late winter/early spring. 
        The following information can be found at
There are a number of advantages to doing invasive plant control work outside of the growing season, (e.g., no disturbance of breeding birds and wildlife, student volunteers more available, less disturbance of native vegetation, a much extended control season). But it requires more advanced field identification skills to avoid throwing native babies out with the bath water, when working at sites with a significant native plant component, e.g., especially, "early intervention" sites with intact natural communities. This workshop focuses on field identification of terrestrial invasive plants in late winter/early spring, prime season for pulling invasives but a difficult time to identify many plants using guides and manuals, as many are somewhere between dormant and leaf-on state. The emphasis will be on distinguishing invasives from native species with which they co-occur and may be potentially confused, especially when in young/immature state. The workshop will emphasize development and reinforcement of field identification skills in situ – it is planned that most of the day will be spent in the field, after a brief introductory classroom session. The workshop is designed for people who are already interested in and/or involved in hands-on invasive plant control, including land managers associated with land trusts, professionals looking to brush up on their skills, and private land owners managing their properties as natural areas. The workshop will also cover a number of so-called “watch list” species, i.e., plants that it is suspected may become invasive, and plants known to be invasive that have not yet become common in the area. In the event of weather too severe for field work, all or part of each session may be changed into a lab/classroom session, using fresh collected specimens. Enrollment is limited to 15 participants per session.
Each participant should bring: a good quality hand lens with at least 10X magnification; a field notebook (preferably waterproof) and writing implement[s], bags for collecting specimens; his/her choice of sun protection; appropriate footwear for both cold mud and hiking up to 2 miles on not-very-rugged terrain; clothing that allows you to stand around for 5-10 minutes in chilly and/or wet weather conditions in sufficient comfort to concentrate on listening and taking notes.
Dates, Times and Locations:  
Friday, April 1, 2011, 8:30 AM - ~5:00 PM. Highstead Arboretum, 127 Lonetown Road (Route 107), Redding, CT 06896
Friday, April 8, 2011, 8:30 AM - ~5:00 PM. White Memorial Conservation Center, 80 Whitehall Rd, Litchfield, CT 06759
Accommodations and amenities: Lunch and liquid refreshments will be provided. Transportation to field sites beyond walking distance will be by convoy/car-pool in participants' vehicles.
$109.00 for each workshop. Payment is required in advance, by check or money order, to register. Checks should be made out to "Aton Forest Inc." and sent to Aton Forest Inc., P.O. Box 509, Norfolk, CT 06058. Enrollment will be on a first-come-first-served basis. If a session is canceled by us for any reason, tuition payments will be refunded in full, by mail. If a registered participant cancels, tuition may or may not be refunded, at our discretion, depending upon the final class size.

For more information, contact: Bill Moorhead (860-567-4920,,
John Anderson, Executive Director, Aton Forest Inc. (860-542-5125,, or
Bill Toomey, Director, Highstead Arboretum (203-938-8809,,

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