Tag Archives: Austin

Invasive Species Can’t Hide During SXSW Eco

Commander Ben and Ms. Jessica Strickland ready to hunt invasive species during SXSW Eco

I had a great adventure on Thursday when I joined Ms. Jessica Strickland, Invasive Species Program Manager at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, to help map the location of invasive plants along Waller Creek.

The special SXSW Eco “Green Army” event began at the Congress Avenue Kayaks building located at the end of Trinity Street in downtown Austin. The building is on Lady Bird Lake (Town Lake) and Waller Creek. All the participants for the event gathered here before we headed out on our adventures. Mr. Justin Murrill, Global Sustainability Manager for AMD and coordinator of the event, welcomed us all and explained the importance of volunteer efforts like this to help keep Austin beautiful.

Commander Ben and Mr. Justin Murrill, Global Sustainability Manager for AMD at SXSW Eco Green Army Event

Some people were going to clean up the trash in the creek, others were going to make seed balls (which were going to be donated to Bastrop State Park to help replant their area after last years wildfires), and others—including me—were going to identify invasive species for future removal or containment projects.

Ms. Strickland and I found many invasive plants along Waller Creek including:

Pictures from the SXSW Eco Invasive Species Mapping

Photographing invasive plants against a white background makes them easier to identify later.

A photographer from the Austin American-Statesman snaps a picture of our tactical reports.

Invasive English Ivy begins to suffocate a tree along Waller Creek.

King Ranch Bluestem (KR Bluestem) at our feet. Unfortunately, you can find them all over Texas, especially on roadsides.

A close up of KR Bluestem. Alas. Their seeds spread easily.

Can you spot the Elephant Ear on Waller Creek?

You can run Elephant Ear, but you can’t hide!

Super villian team up: Elephant Ear next to Heavenly Bamboo

Here I am mapping Johnson Grass. Humm. For amount, where can I circle “beaucoup”?

I sense a disturbance in the ecosystem. Is the Giant Reed trying to sneak up on me again?

We had a nice audience of turtles during our great day of mapping!

All in all it was a great day!

Your friend,
Ben

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Filed under AMD, Austin, Austin American Statesman, Bastrop State Park, Chinese Privet, Elephant Ear, English Ivy, Giant Reed, Green Army, Heavenly Bamboo, Invasive Plants, Invasive Species, Jessica Strickland, Johnson Grass, Justin Murrill, King Ranch Bluestem, KR Bluestem, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Lady Bird Lake, Ligustrum, SXSW, SXSW Eco, Texas Invasives, Tree of Heaven, Waller Creek, Wildflower Center

Austin Invasive Species Corps Aid Golden-Cheeked Warbler

Mr. Darrell Hutchinson describes his work helping to track and protect the habitat for the Golden-Cheeked Warbler, an endangered species that breeds only in central Texas. He demonstrates how the weed wrench helps to remove invasive species that crowd out the native plants and trees in the warbler’s ecosystem.

Mr. Hutchinson is a biologist in Austin, Texas, and a member of Austin’s Invasive Species Corps. I interviewed “Corporal” Hutchinson during our invasive species volunteer day in August 2012. Learn more about my adventures with Austin’s Invasive Species Corps.

This video is part of my “Invasive Species: Secrets Revealed” series of interviews with scientists that I first started at the 2011 Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Conference.

Your friend,
Ben

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Filed under Austin Invasive Species Corps, Citizen Scientist, Endangered Species, Golden Cheeked Warbler, Invasive Species, Invasive Species: Secrets Revealed, Mr. Darrell Hutchinson, Volunteer, Weed wrench

Bastard Cabbage Fouls Texas Bluebonnets

Commander Ben beseiged by Bastard Cabbage

What a nice surprise to see Dr. Damon Waitt on TV last night! Dr. Waitt is the Senior Director and Botanist at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

He was talking about Bastard Cabbage (Rapistrum rugosum), also known as Mediterranean Mustard. It’s a terrible invasive species that is overrunning Texas wildflowers, especially our beloved Texas Bluebonnets.

I first learned about Bastard Cabbage from him last fall in my video interview with him at the 2011 Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Conference. He said that this plant was the invasive species that really worried him.

Seeing Dr. Waitt interviewed by Mr. Jim Swift on KXAN reminded me of that plant, and I had to go out today to learn more about it.

Invasive Species Create Terrible Monocultures

Bastard Cabbage crowds out the wonderful Texas bluebonnets and creates a terrible monoculture. It towers over the bluebonnets, and the rosette at the base of the plant and long tap root steal resources that could have gone to the native Texas wildflowers.

They have a long stem and small yellow flowers. When I saw it when I was younger, I thought it was a native Texas wildflower.

Fight Back Against this Invasive Plant

In the KXAN article, Dr. Waitt said that with enough seed, Indian Blanket wildflowers might be able to compete with this invasive plant, but that’s a hard fight to win.

Bastard Cabbage overruns Texas Bluebonnets along highway 360 in Austin, Texas

Dr. Waitt said it’s best to hand pull Bastard Cabbage. I did my part pulling some up on highway 360 in Austin, and I took some down with my moves from the Invasive Hunter Academy. I also took a plant sample for my herbarium.

He said that on a 10 point worry scale, he’s at a 9.5. If Dr. Waitt’s worried about our Texas Bluebonnets, we should all be worried too!

Thanks, Dr. Waitt, and the Texas Invasives website for teaching me about this terrible invasive!

Your friend,
Commander Ben

Update: Video: See Native Plant Avengers – Ecosystem’s Mightiest Heroes – battle Bastard Cabbage

Update: Bastard Cabbage Takes Over Texas Wildflowers

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Filed under 2011 Texas Invasive Plant Conference, Bastard Cabbage, Damon Waitt, Herbarium, Invasive Hunter Academy, Jim Swift, KXAN, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Texas Bluebonnets, Texas Invasives