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Plant species


Friday, December 22, 2017

After going to MacLeish Field Station in Whately for soil samples and leaf litter data, I became interested in learning more about the plant species that live at MacLeish.

It turns out that there are three invasive plants threatening other plant species. Oriental bittersweet (celastrus orbiculatus), for instance, is present in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont, with Maine being the only state in which the plant is not invasive. The celastrus orbiculatus is a vine which can adapt to both intense sun and shade. What makes it invasive is its ability to cut through trees, specifically tree branches.

The multiflora rose (rosa multiflora) is another invasive species present at MacLeish Field Station. The rose is a thorny shrub with leaflets. It is able to replace any existing vegetation in the area that it inhabits, and produces over 500,000 seeds per year.

The third invasive species is a barberry (berberis thunbergii), a small deciduous shrub that is spread through birds. Barberries are invasive in that they compete with native trees of the habitat they invade.

All three of these plants indicate that there needs to be some way to control the spread of invasive plants at MacLeish, especially if we want to ensure the maintenance of that ecosystem. Many people visit MacLeish for various reasons, which means that we need to be extra careful when it comes to causing disruptions to habitats, or even the spread of invasive plants to other parts of the forest.

Chaimaa Riad

Smith College Class of 2020