A few weeks ago, Montpelier Parks Director Geoff Beyer noticed many maples still holding onto green-yellow leaves. These were not red maples, whose vibrant red foliage already littered the ground, nor sugar maples, which also dropped their leaves weeks earlier. The culprit? A monotypic stand of invasive Norway maples.

Originally introduced to North America as an ornamental tree, Norway maples leaf out early and drop their leaves late, giving them a few weeks growing advantage over native species. They also reproduce easily and tolerate a variety of growing conditions. Consequently, the Norway maple has aggressively spread to disrupted hillsides, mature forests and everywhere in-between.

Cutting Norway maples actually encourages them to re-sprout. A more effective and easier alternative is to girdle the main stem. Also called ring-barking, girdling is the removal of a ring of bark resulting in the eventual death of the tree.

As a part of their alternative break program, Norwich University students generously spent a portion of Thanksgiving week volunteering in Hubbard Park. Equipped with pipe wrenches and draw-knives, the group of enthusiastic students were taught how to identify the trees and strip the bark. By the end of the day, hundreds of Norway maples were girdled. Next time you enter Hubbard Park to walk, ski or sled and you see these scarred trees, think warmly of the park staff, Norwich volunteers and tree board members working to keep Hubbard the amazing place it is.

If you have questions or want to help remove invasive plants, contact eco-americorps@montpelier-vt.org.

Jacqueline Huettenmoser


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