Visitors to Whaleback Shell Midden State Historic Site in Damariscotta may notice apple trees starting to reemerge from a stranglehold of invasive vines. Thanks to a crew of Coastal Rivers Conservation Trust volunteers, several pickup truck loads of vines were cut and removed in preparation for mowing between the trees.
The property is owned by the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands with management assistance from Coastal Rivers.
Changes in mowing patterns at the site had allowed Asiatic bittersweet and Multiflora rose to take hold and spread among the trees in recent years. Asiatic bittersweet vines can become as thick as a human arm and can restrict the growth of a tree as they twine around the trunk. Host trees can eventually weaken and die as a result of this constriction and the shade caused by the leaves of the vines.
The work day was part of a larger effort by Coastal Rivers’ stewardship committee to combat the spread of invasive plants at preserves owned or co-managed by Coastal Rivers. Called the “Bittersweet Brigade,” the group has met weekly in small work parties over the course of the summer to remove Asiatic bittersweet, Multiflora rose, Japanese barberry, Japanese knotweed, and Black swallowwort at Salt Bay Farm, Round Top Farm, and Salt Bay Heritage Preserve.