Friday, April 23, 2010

Arcadia Weed Park

Noodle around on this blog and you'll see there's a lot devoted to lovely spots to hike and learn about nature. Arcadia Wilderness Park is certainly a learning experience. But it's the kind of hard lesson I'd like to be spared.

It's one of the most depressing places I've been. As you can see above, aggressive weeds called invasive plants don't respect fences. They escape gardens and hightail it into wilderness areas. The city of Arcadia has done little to nothing to control the weeds in its park and now they threaten the adjacent Angeles National Forest.

Castor bean and fountain grass have already jumped the fence. Fountain grass is crazy-bad. Below you can see it's growing out of every crack in a stairway and a slope that's been hardscaped. It also blankets a couple acres adjacent to this stairway.

And the plant has also taken root in a creek running through the park. Click over to my weeds series to learn more about fountain grass.

Ah, isn't that a pretty sight? The kiss of light on--just kidding, this is one weed duking it out with another. Bad boy cape ivy trying to strangle His Nastiness, castor bean.

Above Drew Ready of the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council cranes to see the crown of a mature elderberry, smothered by cape ivy. "This area is pretty much a dead zone," he said. "If you listen and look around, you hear no wildlife--there's no songbirds; you see no lizards. There are probably rats."

At Arcadia Park ivy's got strangle-hold at least one sycamore (above & below) as well, and is making a run for some gorgeous live oaks. "The ivy over the years has covered the [oak] seedlings, so there's no regeneration going on in this understory," Ready said. "If this oak goes, there's a good chance there won't be one to replace it."

Click below to read the final two installments of my LA Times weed series:

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