Emory and Henry College's 2018 Service Plunge at BRDC

Thanks to Emory and Henry College’s dedication to serving local communities through acts of service, BRDC gained a crew of helping hands for a morning of ground maintenance during E&H’s 2018 Service Plunge. Students and staff from Emory and Henry joined BRDC staff on the Center grounds to tackle our crop of non-native, invasive plants. After a brief introduction to invasive plants by Jay Martin, the crew got to work eradicating the thorny thicket of Japanese barberry and the low light-loving Japanese stiltgrass around the property.

In the 1920’s, during the time that the Konnarock Training School was built, Japanese barberry had a 50-year history of being selected as an ornamental shrub in the United States. The plant grows under a variety of light and soil conditions, requires little maintenance, is deer-resistant, and turns a beautiful shade of deep red during autumn. Its size and thorns also contributed to its use as a hedge. However, its hardiness and browse resistance also allow it to thrive, outcompeting native plants. Further, its seeds are readily dispersed by birds and can remain viable in the soil for up to ten years.

Similar to the barberry, Japanese stiltgrass was also introduced in the United States from Asia – although accidentally – and also grows in a variety of habitats. Each plant is capable of producing 100-1,000 seeds which can remain viable in the soil for up to five years. This unpalatable annual grass both crowds out native plants and increases deer browse on more palatable natives.

Little by little, we pulled, trimmed, and hauled, removing these unwanted residents manually. In doing so, we uncovered salamanders, a young ring-necked snake, and a stone wall that was previously masked by shrubs.

Thank you, Emory and Henry College, for helping us to eradicate these invasives, making way for a future of healthy, native vegetation!