Autumn Olive Shrub
Autumn Olive Shrub

Invasive Plant Control

What Is A Native Plant?

Native plants are those that occur historically in a certain ecosystem and have thrived there without help from humans. They have evolved as part of the ecosystem and support local food webs. New Jersey has over 2,000 native plants.

A non-native plant is one that was introduced to the area by accident or as an ornamental. Non-native plants may not provide the same food, habitat or ecological benefits as native plants.

What Is An Invasive Plant Species?

A non-native plant is considered invasive when it proliferates so much that it suppresses the native plants. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection website has a webpage explaining the difference between invasive species and weeds that are simply out of place. Every species in that list of most familiar and widespread invasive plants can be found at the Celery Farm.

Restoring Native Plants at the Celery Farm

Fyke Nature Association volunteers have been busy removing these harmful plants in certain locations and replanting the cleared areas with native plants.

The East Side Native Plant Garden planted in the spring of 2024 was previously an Autumn Olive grove. Autumn Olive is a shrub deliberately brought here from Asia as and ornamental and planted extensively by the Soil Conservation Service in the 1950s for erosion control.

As the Nature Conservancy explains, "Autumn olive is a problem because it outcompetes and displaces native plants. It does this by shading them out and by changing the chemistry of the soil around it, a process called allelopathy. Loss of native vegetation can have cascading effects throughout an ecosystem, and invasive species are one of the major drivers for a loss of biodiversity."

The replanted areas need to be enclosed inside a deer fence for the first few years while the native plants get established. The deer are native and have evolved to selectively eat native plants, which is one reason the invasive plants proliferate now that people have eliminated the predators of deer.

Fyke Nature Association volunteers have also removed Porcelain Berry, Oriental Bittersweet, Japanese Stiltgrass, Multiflora Rose, Azure Honeysuckle, Japanese Honeysuckle, Japanese Barberry, and Garlic Mustard. There is a multi-year plan to expand the areas to be cleared and replanted.

Phragmites reeds have been cut back in areas to free up the native dogwood tree saplings. Phragmites are an invasive plant that is very difficult to remove, but the plan is to continuously cut it back before it produces seeds, gradually weakening the plant.