Thank you Blue Hen Leadership Program for sending a group of students to help pull the invasive Alliaria petiolata (Garlic Mustard) from the Pennsylvania White Clay Creek Preserve last Saturday. The group of 34 students from the University of Delaware and area high schools traversed over 4 miles of the PA Preserve trails, hiking and pulling the invasive plant from the woods as part of a day of service celebrating Earth Day.
The students learned about the invasive plant and the the threats it poses to native ephemeral wildflowers. Opportunistic plants that have not co-evolved with other species in our area often have fewer threats to their viability. In other words, they may have fewer natural pests and predation threats, as well as the ability to rapidly colonize an area. This often gives them a competitive edge over our native species allowing them to displace or greatly reduce the population of natives.
It was a day of service, but there was also time for some sight seeing. We spied a spotted turtle basking in the sun, heard spring peepers singing in a nearby wetland, and saw some of the many beautiful spring wildflowers blooming along the trail such as Jacob's ladder, may apple, trout lily, spring beauty, and the emerging fronds of the Christmas fern. All of which make the White Clay Creek Preserve such a treasure to visit.