By Ryan O’Neill, Stewardship Project Manager
Wednesday field crew was hosted at Beech Hill last week. Our ongoing field management plan prescribes the pulling of invasive plants, of which we have a couple species. While pulling up an Autumn Olive, Elaeagnis umbellata, an invasive from Asia, I noticed some white growths on the root of the invasive plant. I first thought maybe it was some kind of root gall but was unsure.
I was later able to identify the mass as a natural clump of nodules, which the shrub uses to fix nitrogen within the soil, allowing it an opportunity to thrive in less than ideal conditions, which adds to the invasive factor, along side it’s suckering roots! The nitrogen fixing process is the result of a symbiotic relationship with Frankia bacteria, which actually initiates the formation of the root nodules. We have some native nitrogen fixers in the fields as well like the Speckled Alder, Alnus incana.