The Wildflower Trail is a 1.3 km paved trail that follows along the route Gen. Stonewall Jackson took when he marched from the Shenandoah Valley to Fredericksburg through New Market, Virginia.
I had some time in between hikes in Shenandoah and so I had decided to visit this very easy trail in search of one of the newest invasive grasses in the country.
|Trudging deeper into the woods|
It should be noted that a native species of this genus (Oplismenus hirtellus and perhaps others) is also found in the United States, mostly in the Southeastern part of the country, and should not be confused with this non-native invader. They can be distinguished by the fact O. undulatifolius is conspicuously hairier and has white flowers, whereas O. hirtellus has purplish or reddish flowers.
|The fallen logs|
|The surprise find|
The grass was intermixed with masses of M. vimineum, as well as a few other plants, and a careful search of my surroundings revealed more of the invasive (including near a large clump of stiltgrass), although never in a large enough grouping to merit unusual attention. I even found a very young specimen that even at that small stage had the characteristic rippled leaves. I was able to quickly ID the plants because in addition to the rippled leaves, O. undulatifolius has very hair stems, and its sprawling behavior on the forest floor also helps in the identification.
|Mixed in with the stiltgrass|
|More specimens around the base of a tree|
|Two younger individuals|
Given such fecundity, and coupled to the perennial lifestyle of the species and its ability to thrive in deep forest canopies, it is probably only a matter of time before it threatens major parts of the northeastern half of the USA.
|A very young specimen already has the characteristic rippled leaves|
EDDMapS. 2020. Early Detection & Distribution Mapping System. The University of Georgia - Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health. Available online at http://www.eddmaps.org/; last accessed July 25, 2020.
Peterson, P.M., E.E. Terrell, E.C. Uebel, C.A. Davis, H. Scholz, and R.J. Soreng. 1999. (Scientific Note) Oplismenus hirtellus subspecies undulatifolius, A new record for North America. Castanea 64:201-202.