An invasive plant in the Santa Cruz Mountains can take over a creek.
Its scientific name is Clematis vitalba, but most folks call it “old man’s beard” after its large, white flowers. Maybe you’ve seen this houseplant in your local nursery or a neighbor’s front yard, Native to parts of Europe and with no animals or insects that want to eat it in the state of California, clematis is an highly invasive plant here that can engulf an entire watershed.
Left unchecked, clematis wraps its tendrils around the base of nearby trees. Next, it climbs until it has secured as much sunlight as it can – often choking out and killing the trees and native ground plants. Then, with nothing to stop its advance, our forests are reduced to big ugly mats of a gnarled, non-native weed.
The Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County was the first to identify the 30-acre patch of clematis in San Vicente Redwoods in 2011. That same year, POST and our conservation partners acquired the 8,532-acre property near Davenport. So, when we protected this land, we became its steward and owned the challenge of eradicating this seemingly unstoppable plant.
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Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) protects open space on the Peninsula and in the South Bay for the benefit of all. Since its founding in 1977, POST has been responsible for saving more than 87,000 acres as permanently protected land in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. Learn more