During a routine observational visit to the Duck Pond Springs today I was surprised to find the area overgrown with the aquatic weed, watercress (Nasturtium officinale) and a variety of other non-native pest plants that are well-established in the surrounding dry land. These included Dame’s rocket (Hesperis matronalis), Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense), reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea), burdock (Arctium minus), and garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata).
The spring flow channels were nearly choked with watercress and the surrounding uplands were without any easily visible native grasses or flowers. Of course, the upland parts of the spring area do–or used to–have a nice display of native spring ephemerals such as Virginia bluebells (Mertenisia Virginica) and bloodroot (Sanguinaria Canadensis), and these would be expected to have naturally died back by this point in the season. But still, some of the native associates of springs, such as cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), marsh marigold (Caltha palustris), and buttercup (Ranunculus species) that one would expect to see growing in a moist environment were not apparent.
The pest plants I saw are not your run-of-the-mill weeds but are some of the toughest customers around and are difficult to contain or eradicate once established. These are the kind of weeds that managers should be on the lookout for so they can be detected as early as possible. Once discovered, managers should respond forcefully and rapidly with proven control methods.
The area can clearly use some volunteer help to dig, pull, and cut these pest plants. These efforts should be done soon before the weeds have set seed and before these seeds have dispersed.