Tag Archives: native plants

Insurgent Chinese Privet Attempts Invasive Species Comeback

In October 2011, I had a chance to work with biologist Chis Warren and a group of Austin volunteers to help clear out Chinese Privet (Ligustrum sinense) from the Balcones Canyonland Preserve (BCP). I talked about our exploits last year in Titanic Struggle with Chinese Privet Ends with Their Doom.

In August 2012, I returned to the Long Canyon portion of the BCP with volunteers from the Austin Invasive Species Corps to hunt down Chinese Privet plants that were attempting a comeback, such as from the stumps that we cut down earlier or from berries that were buried underground.

It’s important to remove Chinese Privet and other invasive species from the BCP to help protect the native habitat of the endangered Golden-Cheeked Warbler.

Commander Ben and biologist Chris Warren taking a break from battling Chinese Privet.

Mr. Warren talked with me about the progress that they made since last year, and in the video from our August 2012 adventures, he describes the Chinese Privet’s distinguishing features.

For example, did you know that in Central Texas, most invasive plants have leaves and branches that are strongly opposite from each other, and many native plants have alternating leaves and branches?

Cut stump of Chinese Privet, an invasive species on the Balcones Canyonland Preserve.

In the video, you’ll also learn why invasive species have a built in advantage over natives, such as cheap, quick growth and the lack of natural predators.

Learn more about my past adventures on the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve:

The Austin Invasive Species Corps Wants You

Would you like the enjoyment…ah…satisfaction of protecting your native ecosystem and pulling an invasive plant out of the ground with a weed wrench or other nature defense weapon of your choice?

You can!

On Saturday, September 29th, join Austin Wildlands and the Austin Parks Foundation to help clear invasive species from the BCP and around Austin as part of National Public Lands Day. You can also help to restore Black-capped Vireo habitat in the BCP, help prairie seeding restoration on Water Quality Protection Lands in Northern Hays County, and many other great volunteer activities!

Update: Because of heavy rain expected on September 29, the clean up for National Public Lands Day was postponed to October 6.

Hope to see you there!

Your friend,
Ben

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Filed under Austin Invasive Species Corps, Austin Parks Foundation, Balcones Canyonlands Preserve, Barton Creek Greenbelt, BCP, BCP wildland conservation, Black-capped Vireo, Chinese Privet, City of Austin, City of Austin Wildland Conservation Division, City of Austin’s Wildland Conservation Division, Endangered Species, Golden Cheeked Warbler, Invasive Plants, Invasive Species, Ligustrum, Long Canyon, Mr. Chris Warren, National Public Lands Day 2012, Water Quality Protection Land, Weed wrench

Invasive Hunter Academy Helps Kids Learn About Invasive Species

Happy Independence Day from me and my dog, Obi-wan!

I’m looking forward to meeting kids, families, and everyone who loves nature at the Invasive Hunter Academy tomorrow during Nature Nights at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. This free event on Thursday, July 5, at 6:00 p.m. focuses on the “Power of Plants”.

I can’t wait to teach kids of all ages about invasive species, the problems that they cause, and what you can do about them. Learn cool combat moves and create an action diorama to take home with you.

Check out the other fun activities during the evening too:

  • Take a special behind the scenes tour of the seed lab herbarium and nursery
  • Learn about edible native plants and make rope and tools using plants
  • Hear about traditional uses of local native plants from Mark Blumenthal, Founder and Executive Director of the American Botanical Council
  • Hike the Wildflower Center gardens with experts, including Ellen Zimmerman with the Austin School of Herbal Studies, botanist Flo Oxley, and Native Plant Society of Texas members, who will teach you about how native plants can be used as medicines
  • Go on a garden scavenger hunt and make seed balls with Master Naturalists
  • Create a paper version of the Venus flytrap using recycled materials with the Teenage Ecowarriors

So be sure to come to Nature Nights and join the elite ranks of the Invasive Hunters! I can’t wait to see you tomorrow!

Your friend,
Ben

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Filed under American Botanical Council, Austin School of Herbal Studies, Invasive Hunter, Invasive Hunter Academy, Invasive Species, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Master naturalist, Native Plant Society of Texas, Nature Nights, Power of Plants, Wildflower center

Commander Ben Leads Young Invasive Hunters during National Invasive Species Awareness Week

Learn how future invasive hunters trained at Commander Ben’s Invasive Hunter Academy at Kid’s Day during National Invasive Species Awareness Week (NISAW) at the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington D.C. With this video, watch their journey from novice naturalists to elite defenders of native species.

This is my first of a series of articles talking about my adventures in Washington D.C. during National Invasive Species Awareness Week. Check out my preview video for the Invasive Hunter Academy before the Washington D.C. event.


Thank you Ms. Lori Williams, National Invasive Species Council (NIISC) Executive Director, and Ms. Kelsey Branch, USDA Biologist and Kid’s Day coordinator, for inviting me to be part of this fun and exciting Kid’s Day! And thank you Dr. Damon Waitt, Senior Director and Botanist with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, for all your kind words and encouragement!

Your friend,
Ben

Update: USDA Celebrates Commander Ben and His Invasive Hunter Academy

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Filed under Battles with Invasive Species, Damon Waitt, Invasive Hunter Academy, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, National Invasive Species Awareness Week, U.S. Botanic Garden

Reeling in the Top Aquatic Invasive Species in Texas

Dr. Earl W. Chilton II describes the top aquatic invasive species invading Texas lakes and waterways, including Giant Salvinia, Water Hyacinth, and Hydrilla. Although more of a riparian plant, discover why the Giant Reed poses such a threat to the water and native plants along the Rio Grande River. Dr. Chilton is the Aquatic Habitat Enhancement Program Director for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

This video is part of Commander Ben’s “Invasive Species: Secrets Revealed” series of interviews from the 2011 Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Conference.

Commander Ben signing off…

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Filed under 2011 Texas Invasive Plant Conference, Earl Chilton, Giant Salvinia, Hydrilla, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Water Hyacinth

Giant Reed’s Fighting Retreat on Lady Bird Lake

Ms. Mary Gilroy talks about efforts to hunt down and eradicate the Giant Reed (Arundo Donax) around Lady Bird Lake in Austin, Texas. Learn how data collected from citizen scientists as part of the Invaders of Texas Program helped map the locations of this invasive species and the multiyear campaign to remove this obstinate invasive and restore native plants. Ms. Gilroy is an environmental scientist in Austin, Texas.

This video is part of Commander Ben’s “Invasive Species: Secrets Revealed” series of interviews from the 2011 Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Conference.

Commander Ben signing off…

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Filed under 2011 Texas Invasive Plant Conference, Citizen Scientist, City of Austin, Giant Reed, Invaders of Texas, Lady Bird Lake, Mary Gilroy