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It’s springtime and if you’re a Newton Conservator that means invasive plants pulling season. 

Every spring the Conservators provide a great public service to the City.  They recruit a hardy team of volunteers to fight back against the relentless invasive plant species that spread through our parkland

Two weeks ago the enthusiastic volunteers led by horticulturalist Bruce Wennings pulled mountains of buckthorn out of Cold Spring Park and left the park much improved.

Last weekend’s outing to Hemlock Gorge didn’t go nearly as smoothly.  The plan was to pull all the poison ivy plants.  A big crew of volunteers went to work yanking out bagfuls of the highly invasive vine.   A few hours later trouble began to surface.  All of the volunteers began breaking out in itchy sores all over their legs and arms.

Said Conservators president Beth Wilkinson “it was a nightmare.  Nobody could figure out what had happened.  Hours later, after feverishly scouring the internet, Brandies ecologist Eric Olson found some disturbing information about the plant.  It appears that with some individual the plant is known to cause those symptoms.   Said Olson “It just goes to show, there’s always something more to learn in this field.  That’s why I love it.”

President Wilkinson personally apologized to the volunteers on behalf of the Conservators and reassured them that “we’ll never make that mistake again. Next year we’ll take that nasty stuff out with a 55 gallon drum of RoundUp”