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Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group Hosts 2022 Virtual Symposium: Part 1

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This is the first of a two-part story to recap a virtual symposium conducted by Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group on “Strategies for Managing Invasive Plants: Assess, Remove, Replace, and Restore.”

Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group (CIPWG) hosted its 2022 virtual symposium with the theme of “Strategies for Managing Invasive Plants: Assess, Remove, Replace, and Restore” on November 3.

The full-day webcast featured multiple sessions that covered terrestrial and aquatic invasive plant topics. CIPWG Co-Chairs Emmett Varricchio, Victoria Wallace, and Rose Hiskes welcomed everyone attending, as well as their planning committee members and event sponsors.

Varricchio explained that attendees could submit their questions during the webcast for the speakers to answer during the Q&A portion at the end of each session.

Keynote Speaker

Cornell University professor Bernd Blossey was the virtual symposium’s keynote speaker with a talk titled, “Invasive Plant Management: What We Know, What We Do Not Know, and What We Must Know.”

He shared how “nature is resilient” and that species evolve/adapt over time.

“Conservation and management success should be measured over decades and centuries, not days, weeks, or months,” Blossey’s slide detailed.

As for what we do not know, he said, it is the understanding and enhancing capacity for ecosystem self-renewal. Doing so requires identifying the global, regional, and local threats, as well as taking action.

For what we must know when gathering information for invasive plant management is the impact of invasives on native species, impacts of management, to assess long-term outcomes, and identify driving factors.

Methods Blossey brought up to “create thriving woodlands” was deer management, fencing land to protect it, and restoring areas by planting seedlings.

He went on to highlight that Connecticut is facing a “big problem” with water chestnuts, Japanese Knotwood should not be bred or distributed, and that he does not support the Garlic Mustard Challenge, which encourages citizens to remove garlic mustard.

“Do not pull garlic mustard,” Blossey emphasized.

Online Tools

Eastern Connecticut State University assistant professor and botanist Dr Bryan Connolly started the morning session of the virtual symposium with his talk, “Online Tools and Apps for Identifying and Reporting Invasive Plants.”

Connolly has visited Newtown on multiple occasions in recent years to help the Conservation Commission with its High Meadow Project and assessments.

During his presentation, Connolly focused on four different apps that are helpful for professionals such as himself and everyday individuals who want to learn more about invasive plants.

He went over the step by step process of using Native Plant Trust’s Go Botany, gobotany.nativeplanttrust.org; The Consortium of Northeastern Herbaria and Torey Herbarium, neherbaria.org, search.biodiversity.uconn.edu/SimpleSearch; EDDMaps, eddmaps.org/species; and iNaturalist, inaturalist.org.

Go Botany “is a really good place to start,” according to Connolly. He personally uses it for information on rare plants. One of the identification features he finds helpful is that it also shows what the invasive plant can be commonly mistaken for.

Connolly called The Consortium of Northeastern Herbaria and Torey Herbarium an “amazing resource” because it has all the specimens and herbaria in one database. It is a good resource for historical data and accessing high resolution scans.

EDDMaps shows local ground populations from users contributing data that is verified by experts.

“You can report your sightings,” Connolly said and added that it is easy to do so.

He lists that its best features are its alerts, negative reports, projects, ecological data, and population size.

The last resource Connolly went over was iNaturalist, which he prefaced as being one of his favorites. It has a point-and-shoot camera recognition system that identifies plants instantaneously. People can also contribute their data.

He detailed that iNaturalist is very versatile, easy to use, fast, and has a huge amount of data.

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Reporter Alissa Silber can be reached at alissa@thebee.com.

Clockwise starting left are Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group Co-Chairs Emmett Varricchio, Rose Hiskes, and Victoria Wallace greeting everyone at the start of the full-day virtual symposium about invasive plants on November 3.
Cornell University professor and symposium keynote speaker Bernd Blossey, pictured right, encourages people to grow and plant native plants — such as swamp milkweed, meadowsweet, and sensitive fern — then revisit them to monitor their survival, growth, and reproduction.
Dr Bryan Connolly, pictured upper right, of Eastern Connecticut State University, explains how people can use the Native Plant Trust’s online tool Go Botany during his morning session at the virtual invasive plants symposium.
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