Urbanization and Habitat Loss
Approximately 90 percent (20,000 acres) of the Pine Bush has been replaced by residential, commercial and industrial uses. The Commission is working with partners and the public through a native plant restoration program and project review to soften the impacts of development.
Pine Bush neighbors are restoring their property with beautiful native pine barrens plants.
The Pine Bush is a fragmented landscape, like a jigsaw puzzle with missing pieces. Roads, buildings and other obstacles make it difficult for native species to move around. Fragmentation also interrupts natural processes like fire and creates more entry points for invasive species.
The Preserve and its partners plant roadsides with native vegetation to improve species movement.
More than any other factor, periodic fires have shaped and maintained the character of the Pine Bush. Responding to urbanization of the area, a strict policy of fire suppression was established in the 1940s, eliminating natural fires from the Pine Bush.
In 1991, the Commission launched a program of controlled fires to rejuvenate the natural community.
Spread of Invasives
Invasive non-native species can make entire ecosystems unhealthy. A single organism can replace many different local plants and animals, reducing the diversity of the Pine Bush.
We are actively removing invasive plants like Asiatic bittersweet and replanting natives.
Invasive plants of the Pine Bush
- A deciduous tree
- Deeply furrowed bark
- Attractive white flowers
- Native on the east coast from Pennsylvania southward
- Because of its useful hard wood and rapid soil stabilizing qualities, it has been planted well beyond its native range.
- Able to reproduce quickly by both seeds and root sprouts, creates large clusters or clones that push out native species
- Unique invasive species because it is native to the Pine Bush
- A clonal plant (trees close to each other are connected underground through the root system and are genetically identical)
- Very fast growing
- Out-competing desirable pine barrens vegetation in some sites of the Pine Bush
- Fire historically maintained the population, but without periodic burning, their growth can go unchecked
- Commonly controlled in the Pine Bush by girdling the tree (involves stripping a piece of bark all the way around the trunk)
- A deciduous shrub
- Produces many flowers in the spring, followed by “showy” fruits
- Introduced to the United States from Asia between 1700 and 1900
- Can reduce the diversity of the ground layer and transform areas from prairie to scrubland
- Very hard to eradicate because seeds left in the soil can regenerate, even after a fire
- Large shrub
- Capable of forming nearly impenetrable thickets
- Introduced as an ornamental shrub
- Birds are the primary means of seed dispersal
- Has overtaken thousands of acres throughout the country
- During the 1930’s conservation organizations promoted its spread because it is a source of food and cover for wildlife
- Can form colonies
- Dominates the ground layer, pushing out other species
- A perennial plant
- Long stalks of purple flowers
- Colonizes wetland habitats
- Large populations can limit food and habitat available for native wildlife
- Difficult to control once it becomes widespread
- Attempting to dig up the roots can actually increase its spread.
- Several years of cutting the plant to the ground is one effective method of control.
- Nearly impossible to pull up without the aid of a backhoe
- Has an extensive rhizome system, which is similar to very thick horizontal roots
- Outcompetes native plants in wetland habitats
- Extensive vining plant that chokes out surrounding vegetation and trees
- Easily spreads by seeds carried by birds and other wildlife
- Very difficult to eradicate
If you want to incorporate native plants into your garden:
- Obtain information on the native plants in your area and find out where native species can be obtained.
- Position non-invasive exotic species closer to your home, and native species at the edges of your property. Avoid growing invasive species.
- Arrange plants in “communities” resembling conditions in nature.
- Mow a smaller portion of your property, mowing only what you really need as lawn.
- Enjoy the lowered cost and maintenance of your new garden!