Invasive Species Program
Bird Cherry and Choke Cherry
Thank you for helping keep Seward wild!
RBCA recently received a mini grant from the Seward Community Foundation SCF to purchase a weed trimmer and weed barrier material to manage the infestation of Bird Vetch at the middle school and elementary school. This program will be happening throughout the summer (as vetch tends to regrow after it's been trimmed) and for many years to come in order to get the population under control.
Here are some very good photos to help with identification:https://www.invasiveplantatlas.org/subject.html?sub=13109
Also see the brochure from the UAF Cooperative Extension Service below.
The best ways to keep it under control is to mow or pull it before it flowers. This will need to be done a couple times through the summer as it very happily grows back. If pulling, do it when the soil is moist so you get as much as the root as possible. If it has already flowered, carefully cut the flower heads and put them into a plastic bag. Close it well and take it to the dump. It will take a few years of persistent pulling or mowing before you’ll get it under control, but it will happen. Avoid planting anything new in the same area until you are sure it is mostly gone. Otherwise you might disturb your new plant when pulling out the bird vetch.
Here are some native alternatives to plant instead: Yarrow Wild geranium Columbine Alaska rose bushes
If you have it in your yard or garden, keep it to a confined area and pull any "volunteer" seedlings. Once it has flowered, cut off the heads and don't allow it to go to seed. The seeds can live in the ground for up to 5 years and still sprout under the right conditions. If it has gone to seed, carefully bag up the seed heads and put them in the trash. Do not put them in your lawn/yard waste pile as they will likely grow there.
Mowing and pulling them is not effective as it tends to disturb the soil and allow new seeds to sprout. The best defense is to cut the heads once they've flowered to avoid seed production.
Be aware before you buy! Just because you can buy it at a local nursery does not mean it won't be harmful to our native species. Most Silene species are invasive in Alaska. Here are a few websites to check out before you shop in the spring:https://accs.uaa.alaska.edu/invasive-species/non-native-plant-species-list/. This ranks the "invasiveness" of plants (0 = okay; 100 = worst) by scientific or common name. Another good resource is www.kenaiinvasives.org.