Saturday, March 24, 2012

Beware: bastard cabbage invading!

Pulling bastard cabbage at Blanco State Park

Earlier this week, Jeff from San Antonio e-mailed me, asking if I knew the name of the yellow flower that he's been seeing around the Hill Country. 

"I usually ride my bike on the weekends with some other folks in the hills to the north and other areas around San Antonio," he wrote. "In the last several weeks, I have noticed an abundance of yellow flowers on tallish green stems,maybe 2 to 3 feet tall. I was wondering if you might know what these are. They seem to be everywhere, even down in town. I just noticed some along the access road at 1604 and Blanco."

Bastard cabbage (Rapistrum rugosum), I replied! A highly invasive species! 

I've since learned (and observed firsthand today) that the cabbage crowds out native plants with a vengeance. [West AND east of Blanco, the abundance of bastard cabbage growing on roadsides and across pastures is SCARY. Hey, it's growing EVERYWHERE!]

A day or two after Jeff e-mailed, Connie with the Highland Lakes Master Naturalist chapter (my group) sent out a call for volunteers to pull bastard cabbage at Blanco State Park. This morning, James and I joined a group of 10 or so people who worked three or more hours. Many were with our Master Naturalist chapter; others came from the Capital Area chapter in Austin. A few were Highland Lakes Master Gardeners. A few just volunteered because they wanted to help!

As you can see from the photos that James took, we made some progress. But there is LOADS more of this terrible plant in the park.

So what's the skinny on this scary invasive? According to the Plant Conservation Alliance, annual bastard-cabbage comes from Central Europe, the Mediterranean, northern Africa and parts of Asia. But no one's really sure how it got here. The Alliance has posted an online fact sheet on the species.

How do we get rid of it? Pull it, taproot and all. Invasive plant expert Damon Waitt, who's worried, recently talked in length with KXAN in Austin about the problem: "Bastard cabbage attacks!"


More links:

Bastard cabbage gains ground among wildflowers, Houston Chronicle 

The dastardly bastard cabbage and what it is has done to Texas Bluebonnets, Houston Press

Across the Blanco River in the park, more more more bastard cabbage flourishes.

Midway through the morning, around 10 boys with Boy Scout Troop 485 joined our project. They were VERY enthusiastic!

Bastard cabbage blanketed this slope until we volunteers yanked it all up.

There was cabbage on this slope, too, until volunteers removed it.

After three hours of pulling, Sheryl left VERY VERY tired! Bet everyone else did, too!

 * * *
UPDATE MARCH 30, 2012–The Blanco County News published an article, "Cabbage invasion," and printed one of James' photos. 


His Will Not Mine said...

Isn't it wonderful to be in land of spring that was created by GOD? We are all so blessed. I love your blog. Read mine! It is sort of all about me! :( I have never used the letter "I" so much.

sandy lawrence said...

Thanks so much for educating us about bastard cabbage, for the photos and for the links. I had read about it a couple of years ago, but the info was sketchy and I feared I had it in the meadow portion of my yard, which is limited to native grasses/wildflowers. After much Googling, I finally found photos and description sufficient to, thankfully, identify my plants as volunteer Engelmann daisies. Thank goodness!

Rock rose said...

A job well done. I have been noticing the same thing all around Austin. In fact I saw some in a residential neighborhood. I think I wlll pull it out next time because sure as eggs are eggs it will end up in my garden. I have fought for years to get rid of Kin Ranch blue stem and last year almost wiped it out.

Sheryl Smith-Rodgers said...

What a relief! Yes, Engelmann daisies are blooming now. Ours are just starting in the Meadow.

Sheryl Smith-Rodgers said...

And thank you, His Touch, for your kind comments. Yes, God is SO good to bless us this spring with wonderful rains! I'll check out your blog!

Sheryl Smith-Rodgers said...

Yes, pull that cabbage, Lancashire rose!!!!!

Caroline said...

There's a good sized plant growing along a neighbor's chain link fence. I'm tempted to go pull it, but I'm afraid they'll be mad...

Sheryl Smith-Rodgers said...

Maybe you can strike up a chat and figure out together what species it is? Good way to educate them!

Unknown said...

Thanks for your post about the terrible plant called "Bastard Cabbage"! There is a field next door to us and it is SOLID with this plant. First time I have ever seen it and wondered if the abundance of rain that we have been blessed with helped it to show up in such large amounts.

Great work all of you did at Blanco State Park and it will help keep the true beauty of it intact and hopefully allow for future wildflowers to bloom.

Great Work but be sure to get some rest!

Martha Herden

Sheryl Smith-Rodgers said...

Thanks! EVERYBODY worked hard! That plant's got to GO!

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