Wavy Leaf Basket Grass
Wavy Leaf Basket Grass is a relatively new invasive impacting Maryland that has the potential to be more destructive than even Japanese stilt grass. Wavy Leaf basket grass was first identified in 1996, growing along the Patapsco River in Howard County. To date, it has been found in Howard, Montgomery, Prince Georges, Anne Arundel, Carroll, and Baltimore Counties. Wavy leaf basket grass looks a lot like stilt grass, except that the leaves have a wavy appearance to them. What makes this invasive so troublesome is its rapid spread throughout the forest, as well as its ability to out-compete native herbaceous plants, even to the point that it can exclude native trees and shrubs in overrun areas. Wavy leaf basket grass spreads vegetatively from a long stolon, and it has a sticky seed that can adhere to fur and clothing. The seed develops and remains on the plant from August until November. This invasive is found growing in many regional parks, leading to the speculation that it is being spread by visitors that unknowingly transport the seed on their shoes or clothing. Wavy leaf basket grass is native to Japan, China, Korea, and Australia. Control is difficult due to the long perennial lifecycle and considerable mobility of the seeds. Since its introduction, resource managers have been trying to find out where wavy leaf basketgrass is located, and eliminate it. So far, not too many new infestations have been identified, leading some to hope that the threat can be eliminated. Various groups are targeting known infestations and working to eradicate the plant. People are being asked to avoid walking through infested areas during August to November, and being on the lookout for new infestations.
A program has recently been developed, known as the Mid-Atlantic Early Detection Network (MAEDN), which allows a vast network of land managers, field experts, naturalists, gardeners, and assorted outdoors folks to document invasive plant sightings. MAEDN is designed to cover Maryland, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Virginia, West Virginia, New York, and Pennsylvania. The hope is that once knowledgeable people observe invasive plants in the field, they can access this network and document occurrences of these invasive species. This system can be used in early detection, as might be the case of a new sighting of wavy leaf basket grass. Or, it can help experts determine a more accurate distribution of well- established invasives, along with the ecological associations to which they gravitate. The hope is that MAEDN will lead to early detection, improved control efforts, and better coordination amongst agencies. Interested people can download the MAEDN App off the internet into a smart phone or other mobile device. At present, invasive plants are the main focus of this program, but the program also includes some invasive insects and disease, as well.
Nature Note for 3/11/2018