Black Swallow-wort flower, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
Black Swallow-wort is a highly invasive plant that, unfortunately, is beginning to invade the fields of the Charles River Peninsula. Originally from Europe, it escaped into the New England environment in the mid-1800s. It is pernicious for a number of reasons. It spreads quickly via rhizomes and milkweed-like seed pods and may force out native milkweed and golden-rod, creating a monoculture that birds don't like to nest in. Monarch butterflies may also mistakenly lay eggs on swallow-wort plants and the caterpillars will die without their proper nourishment. Luckily, it seems that the infestation has been caught in time at the CRP and TTOR will be able to control it. But it is worth checking around to see if fields you frequent are harboring black swallow-wort.