Today I visited our tree plot at the Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust (PERT) to check on the trees and do some clearing. It was a lovely sunny morning, cool and with little humidity and a light breeze. Perfect for being outside with the trees.
I appreciate everyone’s patience with the continual stream of pictures of green trees and green weeds and green tangle. I use these posts to help me remember my experiences in order to write up my monthly report. It can get repetitive to see what looks like the same scene over and over. I wish you could come along with me to the plot and explore the whole area. There are many little landscapes within this big green one.
I thought that today I would focus on some details I noticed as I worked. I covered the ground in a wandering kind of way and did a variety of tasks – clearing trees of vines and debris, cutting away more invasisve plants from the area I have been working on, and clearing vines from some larger trees at the bottom of the hill that I have not visited much.
OK, let’s go. In no particular order.
Here is a close-up of that velcro-like vine with heart-shaped leaves as it begins its journey up a spicebush.
It looks innocuous enough, and it is a very weak plant – you can tear it away with your hands. I don’t think it enacts long-lasting harm on the trees. But I think it can cause difficulties in growth when it gangs up in a mass, and it adds to the weight on a plant when it combines with other vines as you see here:
Ugh, and it is really unpleasant when you touch it with your bare skin – it’s like sandpaper.
Here is a tiny tree inside its cage, besieged by vines and plant growth. If the tree is this small, I lift the cage away from it and clear out the whole area, then drop the cage back on it and re-stake it.
I have mentioned the strangling effect of the honeysuckle vine. Unlike the other vines I have observed, it has a tough fibrous quality that resists being broken or snapped, and it can grow to be huge – finger-sized. It twists around branches and trunks as you see in the first photo – I’m showing you sections left after I clipped the vine.
Sometimes the vine has embedded itself into the tree so that I can’t remove it, just clip it. The tree continues to grow but it is marred by the experience. The second photo shows a spicebush (I think) that has endured this situation. At some point the vine ceased to grow or was removed, but the scars remain and the later growth reflects the results.
I see instances of the damage the honeysuckle does all over the plot. In addition to wrapping trees it grows up into the crown, weighs the tree down, and eventually starves out the leaves, if left in place. It also provides a nice platform for quicker-growing and lighter vines to leap on to.
I have changed my opinion about how nice a honeysuckle vine is since I have been working here.
Moving on. Lots of wild raspberries coming out now. I am of course dedicated to removing them but I have a more lenient feeling about them than other plants here. Their fruits are useful. A lot of people around here pick them when they are ripe – I’ve seen people with baskets of them.
Here you see a tall tree in its cage., looking spindly and bent. This tree had vines growing up into its crown as I described above, when we first saw it. Now it is clean and maybe it will have a chance to gain strength and even out its growth.
This tree was in the middle of a clearing and growing pretty well, but needed more sunlight. We have cut back some of the surrounding spicebush and given it a little more room, but it was already pretty strong. Nice to see it doing well.
I spent some time today clearing around the base of these larger trees. I’ll need to continue the job, but I did clear a number of invasives from the base area and I pulled a lot of vines from the foliage. If I can’t pull the vines (in the case of the larger older ones or ones that are way up in a tall tree) I cut the vines, so that they will die up in the tree. Here you can see cut vines hanging in mid-air.
Here are trees I did not attempt to approach. Why, you may say? Well, those vines are poison ivy. Remember, leaves of three, let them be, and hairy is scary (meaning the vines are, well, hairy looking). Shout-out to my friend Diane for that latter hint – I’ve found it useful. Anyway, in our PERT orientation, we were told that the poison ivy vines do not stress the trees as the other vines do – they don’t travel tree to tree or leap branch to branch and create a mass and destroy foliage. My observation is that they stick to the large branches and they are very light.
In fact, blowing in the breeze as they were today, it was an attractive sight. But…don’t be fooled. They are lethal, if you ask me – I’m very allergic and let me tell you, the itching the oil produces is fierce and goes on for weeks.
I let these be.
Finally, here is a shot of the plot looking up the hill. From here it is easy to understand the layout – there is a cleared area all the way up under the power lines and extending back until it hits the line of trees/bushes, the area we have been clearing.
Until next time.