Saving Natives

A small but determined team of Chavez Park Conservancy members led by Volunteer Coordinator Bob Huttar tangled with the invasive weed Kikuyu Grass on Saturday morning and gave new breathing and blooming space to a native Willow and a native Purple Sage.

The native Arroyo Willow (Salix lasiolepis) is one of the trees planted by the DAWN project in the early 1980s. This species is part of the family long used by Native Americans as a source of pain relieving medication. Eventually modern science caught on and extracted (and then synthesized) acetylsalicylic acid from the bark. Common commercial name: Aspirin. This particular willow grows next to the paved path on the west side of the park and was heavily colonized by Kikuyu. The invasive weed had suppressed leaf growth on outstretched branches of the low-growing tree. It had even established itself around the main trunks, and was well on its way to climbing up and stifling the plant at its center.

The Purple Sage (Salvia leucophylla) also has a long history of medical and ceremonial use among Native Americans. It also was planted by the DAWN project. This bush grew in the planted island on the west side, between the paved path and the dirt path that runs directly along the water. Conservancy volunteers had previously worked to free another Purple Sage bush higher up in the Native Plant Area slope.

Kikuyu Grass deep in the core of the Arroyo Willow
The Arroyo Willow with the weed cleared away

Volunteer Jutta Burger with weed load cleared from Purple Sage
Volunteer Coordinator Bob Huttar with portion of weed load cleared from Arroyo Willow
The October 17 Weeder Squad: Front, Carol Denney, Rear L-R Marty Nicolaus, Jutta Burger, Bob Huttar

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