Here it comes. Lesser Celandine

There have recently been increasing outbreaks in our area of a particularly pernicious weed, Lesser Celandine.  If you’ve visited Rock Creek Park, Northwest Branch, Sligo Creek or other urban stream areas in the last few weeks, you’ve likely seen this groundcover with the pretty yellow flowers.  But don’t let if fool you.  Lesser Celandine is an formidable competitor that’s a real challenge to manage, even garnering an “Invader of the Month” award from the Maryland Invasive Species Council.  

The good news:  While the early spring outbreaks are aggressive, they are short-lived.  In a few weeks, lesser celandine will recede and allow your other plants to come out.

The bad news:   Removing lesser celandine is difficult.  In addition to its wide spread once established, removing the plants entails fully digging out the roots.  Just cutting back the tops will not restrict its return.  Even for people inclined to use chemicals, there’s aren’t really any good options.

Your best option is to invest the time in spring to remove the weed and keep at it for a couple years.  Our crews have observed that a full removal in spring leads to about a 60% reduction in the return the following year and similar progress in years to follow.  Like any invasive, persistence is required but pays off in the long run. 

Goodbye, Mahonia…

One of my favorite plants is on the Maryland Invasive Plant list: Mahonia bealei, aka ‘Leatherleaf Mahonia’ or ‘False Holly’ or ‘Oregon Grape Holly’

When I go to a client’s garden and see a Burning Bush, Euonymus alatus, I have to explain that birds eat the seeds of this shrub and those seeds end up in our parks, sprouting and growing to stifle out the native woodland plants so important to our eco-system’s wildlife. Invasive plants that berry and spread via wildlife are the worst bullies and we all need to pull them if we want our woodlands to be able to support the diversity of wildlife that belongs here.

I know how it feels to pull a plant you love that is growing beautifully. However there are some great alternatives to these invasives that we can get equally excited about.

In my garden, I’ve swapped the Mahonia for a Corkscrew Willow: and am looking forward to cutting the branches for floral arrangements this winter.

Want an alternative for a Burning Bush? Try Chokeberry- Aronia arbutifolia:, which has the added benefit of being native, producing edible berries and great fall color.

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