Monthly Archives: September 2013

REMOVAL OF INVASIVE SPECIES IN CLEVELAND METROPARKS BECOMES ART INSTALLATION IN PARTNERSHIP WITH SPACES GALLERY

http://www.clevelandmetroparks.com/Main/EventsProgramsCalendar/1822.aspx

http://www.spacesgallery.org/project/retro-reflections-on-sculpting-nature

The removal of an invasive plant species is not normally considered art, but a unique partnership between Cleveland Metroparks and SPACES Gallery is about to change that.

    Japanese-born artist Mimi Kato, a SPACES World Artist Program resident, created a participatory art installation at Sunset Pond in the North Chagrin Reservation that coincides with the Park District’s removal of the invasive species glossy buckthorn.

    To create the exhibit, Cleveland Metroparks Invasive Plant Management Crew used power and hand tools to remove large quantities of buckthorn shrubs around Sunset Pond. As the buckthorn was removed, Kato used reflective tape to represent each buckthorn stem, creating a one-of-a-kind outdoor art installation that will be visible from across the pond along the trail next to the pond.

    The exhibit will be in place from August 23 through October 17. To experience the installation, visitors must bring a flashlight or headlamp to the park in the evening. The exhibit is meant to be viewed by putting the flashlight next to your eyes and aiming it across the water to see lights reflected back by the tape. Each light represents a buckthorn plant that crew members cut and treated with herbicide.

    As Kato moved around the U.S. over the past six years, she noticed something strange: an abundance of plant life she recognized from her birthplace in Nara, Japan. Plants like Japanese knotweed, glossy buckthorn and kudzu made new landscapes unexpectedly familiar to her. Over time, Kato learned that these plants are extremely problematic invasive species in the U.S., disturbing the health and diversity of ecosystems. She was fascinated by the fact that plants she knew to be useful became damaging simply by being in the wrong place.

    Her work in both Cleveland Metroparks and SPACES highlights one of the most problematic invasive plants in the region, glossy buckthorn, and the efforts of invasive plant control crews to maintain an ecological balance in the Park District. The project allows the audience to appreciate the sheer volume of invasive species that threaten the ecological health of our region and aims to start a dialogue to discuss what impact we have on our surroundings and what role we want to play in creating our daily landscapes.

    Sunset Pond is located next to North Chagrin Nature Center, off Buttermilk Falls Parkway, off the Sunset Lane entrance of North Chagrin Reservation, off SOM Center Road/Route 91 in Mayfield Village. For more information, call 440-473-3370.

Kudzu: The Vine that Ate the…North?

DSCF0042Kudzu (Pueraria montana) has long been known as “the vine that ate the south”.  In recent years, however, it has been gaining a foothold in Ohio.  There are currently more than 60 known locations in the state.  Although the majority of these areas are located in southern Ohio, it can be found across the entire state from Lawrence to Cuyahoga County.  Twenty-two counties are known to have populations of this invasive vine, revealing that cold winters aren’t enough to keep it at bay.

Kudzu was introduced to the United States in 1876 at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition to be planted in its Japanese Garden area.  The large bright green leaves and showy purple flowers quickly led to its use in the horticultural industry, and in the 1930s it was widely planted for erosion control.  From there, its use as livestock forage was discovered, leading to plantings throughout the south to feed cattle.  Ohio has recently joined at least 14 other states in adding kudzu to the state’s noxious weed list.

kudzu irontonThis is a species that poses many threats to our Ohio woodlands.  Kudzu has been shown to have very rapid growth rates (up to a foot a day), and can take over large areas of land relatively quickly.  This vine will grow over anything it encounters, including trees, killing them over time.  Kudzu is very aggressive and can quickly cover an area, blocking sunlight to all native plants.  Once established in an area, kudzu is very difficult to control.  Early detection and removal is the best method for getting rid of it.

glacier2010 486Kudzu has large compound leaves with three leaflets per leaf.  Each of the three leaflets is three to seven inches long and will often have lobes.  Flowers are generally present from June to September, and are two to 12 inch long bright purple clusters similar to pea flowers.  The fruit is present from September to January, and consists of flat, tan, hairy seed pods up to three inches long.  Each seed pod can have three to ten hard seeds.  The young vines are covered with fine yellowish hairs, and the older vines can get up to four inches in diameter.  The main method of spread for kudzu is through above ground runners, although it can also spread by seed.

More information on the control of kudzu can be found at http://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/fact/pumo1.htm. You can also contact Eric Boyda of the Appalachian Ohio Weed Control Partnership by phone at 740-534-6578 or email at appalachianohioweeds@gmail.com.  Article by Stephanie Downs