Ontario Nature Blog

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Removing Plant Invaders!

One challenge every land trust faces is managing invasive species. Invasive plants and wildlife are often accidentally brought to Ontario from other parts of the world and, in the absence of natural predators and competitors, crowd out native species. Some familiar invaders include dog-strangling vine, emerald ash borer and garlic mustard.

Credit: Smera Sukumar

Credit: Smera Sukumar

This summer Ontario Nature targeted periwinkle at Cawthra Mulock Nature Reserve with the help of the York-Simcoe Naturalists. The original property owners planted periwinkle in their garden – it now covers a huge area in the nearby forest. If we leave the periwinkle to continue its slow takeover of the forest floor, we would lose numerous woodland grasses and wildflowers.


Credit: Smera Sukumar

I was thoroughly impressed by the volunteers who came out. They were enthusiastic hard workers who removed 96 kilograms of periwinkle and planted 160 wildflowers, grasses and shrubs in only 5 hours! During two events this year, we removed a total of 447 kilograms of periwinkle from Cawthra Mulock Nature Reserve. A special thanks to the York Simcoe Naturalists for organizing a pull in April and for monitoring the reserve for us.

Credit: Smera Sukumar

Credit: Smera Sukumar

Along with imparting a sense of accomplishment and victory over a force threatening our native diversity, removing periwinkle works up quite an appetite! Lunch at our September event, sponsored by Veresen Inc.’s York Energy Centre, was a delicious spread of fresh sandwiches, veggies and sweets that satisfied hungry volunteers, and energized us for the afternoon.

Credit: Smera Sukumar

Credit: Smera Sukumar

A big thank you to all who helped us tackle periwinkle on the reserve. Ontario Nature doesn’t use any chemicals to reduce the amount or extent of invasive vegetation on our nature reserves. Instead, we rely on the dedication and hard work of our volunteers to manually remove invasive plants.

Our thanks to the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation for making the September Periwinkle Pull possible!

Landor Print Default

Stephanie_Muckle_3127_135Stephanie Muckle is Ontario Nature’s Nature Reserves Assistant


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  1. Joanne Maier

    I really congratulate Ontario Nature on all of the wonderful work that you do!

    I am a high school teacher who, although I teach English, am very involved with our school’s very active Environmental Council. (We even had 3 students attend the Ontario Nature Youth Summit last year and one of your youth ambassadors also presented a workshop at our environmental conference we held at U of T, Scarborough last May!)

    I was wondering if you could provide me with any tips on removing dog strangling vine?

    • Otto Peter

      I have been successful in removing a large patch of DSV from the ravine behind my house by string trimming the area repeatedly as the young plants spring up. After the second year I believe the roots were deprived of enough nutrients that they no longer had the energy to produce a new shoot. Now only plants from new seeds come up and they are easy to remove. Last year I started to eradicate a new patch and this year no new plants came up. I suspect if you just pull the plants out by the roots repeatedly that that would work as well if you don’t want to string trim the area. That is something kids can easily do.

    • Hi Joanne:
      You may wish to consult the following Best Management Practices guide
      on Dog Strangling Vine from the Ontario Invasive Plant Council:
      This document describes the life history of DSV, how you can best rid an
      area of it, and where to find additional resources.

  2. Bill

    I have been able to eradicate a patch of periwinkle (approx 20 metres by 20 metres) by covering it with cardboard and weighting it down. (An appliance store allowed me to dumpster dive for the cardboard.) The periwinkle was basically gone after one year. However, the eradication of any invasive is a multiyear project. I still keep checking back to pull stragglers which if left alone would lead to a reinvasion.

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