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Moncus Park Plant Survey

Final report by Dona Weifenbach

ANPP members have completed work begun in March on a plant survey in the 23-acre undeveloped Ravine area of Moncus Park. Teams were led by ANPP volunteers Dona Weifenbach, Heather Warner-Finley, and Lawrence Rozas assisted by Rebecca Moss, Gail Evans, Julia Battle, Rebecca Howard, Dennis Sullivan, Sam Fontenot, Karen Terrell, Martine Colin, Brian Herberich, David Rozas, Phyllis Griffard, Mike Van Etten and Stephen Fournet.  Special thanks to Larry Allain who generously helped with initial survey methodology and plant identification throughout the spring. Moncus Park  groundskeeper Mark Hernandez worked with us initially to establish a sampling plan and facilitated our biweekly field trips allowing us access to the park.  

An "invasive species" is defined as a species that is Non-native (or alien) to the ecosystem under consideration. Invasive alien plants threaten native species and habitats by competing for critical and often limited resources like sunlight, water, nutrients and space. Alien invasives succeed through vigorous growth, prolific reproductive capabilities and by causing site changes that favor their growth and spread. Invasive plant species displace and alter native plant communities, impede forest regeneration and natural succession. They have contributed to the decline of 42% of U.S. endangered and threatened species, and for 18% of U.S. endangered or threatened species, invasives are the main cause of their decline.

We identified 95 native species and 34 invasive species. Representatives of invasive vegetation were marked with orange flagging for removal.  Six highly invasive species are considered top priority for removal: Wax leaf ligustrum (Ligustrum japonicum),  Glossy privet (Ligustrum lucidum),  Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinensis), Japanese ardisia (Ardisia japonicum), Coralberry (Ardisia crenulata), and Chinese tallow (Triadica sebifera).  Additional invasive species that were commonly observed on our surveys include Chinese elm (Ulmus parvifolia), Nandina (Nandina domestica), Camphor tree (Cinnamomun camphora), and Japanese plum (Eriobotrya japonica). Aggressive invasive vines we encountered include Bushkiller (Cayratia japonica) and Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica).

Of the native species, we identified 32 trees and shrubs, 35 herbaceous understory, 13 vines, and 12 grasses and sedges.  Outstanding mature specimens of Live oak (Quercus virginiana), Cherrybark Oak (Quercus pagoda), Loblolly pine (Pinus taeda), Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis), and Black cherry (Prunus serotina) were tagged and recorded in earlier surveys.  Several of these large specimens were downed in hurricanes in 2020.  A mature stand of Pawpaw trees (Asimina triloba) is a rare find in Lafayette Parish and is thriving in the Ravine forest.  

A final list of species identified will be presented to the Moncus Park administration.  This survey completed by ANPP volunteers will help inform the next steps park staff can take to remove  invasive plant species prevalent in the Ravine forest as outlined in the Park's Master Plan.

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