Monday, 21 March 2016

Battle of the Weeds

Last week I spent half a day out with Mark who works at Zealandia.  He targets specific weeds and has the job of not only getting rid of them, but recording what he does and where.  That way, in the future places can be rechecked for regrowth and so that Zealandia has a really careful record of what has grown and where.

Today we were targeting pampas grass growing outside the fenceline perimeter.  I didn't think there would be too much science going on but boy was I wrong.  First I had a lesson all about observation. We always talk about careful observation at school, but this time I really needed to think about all the different things I needed to look out for.  Pampas grass looks A LOT like native toetoe but if you know what to look for, there are a number of key differences.  If I hadn't had a lesson beforehand, then it would have been very easy for me to rip out a number of lovely native toetoe and also a few native flaxs!

Things to look out for
*  The dead leaves on pampas grass go curly like wood shavings.  On a toetoe they are straight.
*  The flowers on pampas tend to stand straight up.  On a toetoe they bend over a bit.
*  The leaves on pampas have a midrib down the centre.  The toetoe has a number of veins visible.
*  The base of the leaves are not waxy on the pampas.  On a toetoe the base of the leaves are waxy white.

This would be an interesting science session to run with kids - to give them some leaves to actually identify using the key features to help them to observe really closely.
 Mark determined not to miss a single pampas grass!

To save carrying weeds around, we turned them upside down
and left them up in a nearby tree to dry out and die.

I had a really interesting day out and really enjoyed learning about the plants both inside and outside the sanctuary.  I'm sure my skills of observation also improved!

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