Rafting the Green River

Clipping Teasel Heads. (Photo by Jessi B.)

What I like most about this internship is that it has given me many opportunities to learn various aspects associated with the subject I love most, Botany. It’s sometimes tedious dirty work but i’m more than happy to be the one doing it. Last week, we took a two day break from SOS collections in order to make a positive influence on our Green River by eradicating some weeds invading the native habitat along the Green River in Utah. Seven of us floated and made frequent stops to trim down and spray various invasive species but the target species was Teasel (Dipsacus follonum). Teasel is an exotic plant native to Europe but was introduced to the Americas by its earliest settlers and has since escaped cultivation and become an invasive species. It can grow as tall as seven feet as it does here along the Green River. This baby is gnarly looking with spines and spikes growing from every inch of the plant making it virtually untouchable. It has pointed bracts that grow just under the egg shaped flower and curve up and around the flower. I’m going to be completely honest and admit I kind of like the look of this punk rocker but I didn’t admit that to the crew and just got to work. The best way of eradicating it is by cutting the flowering heads and disposing of them in a secure bag to prevent them from spreading any further, since the flowers reseed so easily. In addition, we sprayed the leaves with a mild solution of glyphosate to block photosynthetic activity and kill it. Poor punk rocker! There were relatively large zones of healthy habitat throughout the Green River but at the zones where Teasel nested, it REALLY nested and was very prolific.

After a full day of weeding we nestled at a campsite along the river. My first priority was to get into the water and cool off so that’s exactly what I did. After drifting for a bit we feasted on tacos and settled by the campfire. When I closed my eye to sleep all I could see were teasel heads! What a day!

The following day was very similar to the first but we were better skilled and the day went by super fast with all the teasel in the area. I never thought it’d be so fulfilling to eradicate invasive but I really felt as though we made a huge positive impact on the habitat. It was a nice little break from SOS monitoring and hope to have the chance to do it again.



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