Invasive Plant Task Force - James River Park System

Huguenot Woods Flatwater Study Area

Huguenot Woods Flatwater Study Area Map

map key

Click on map above to see detailed PDF.

Study area summary

The Huguenot Woods Flatwater study area includes approximately 36.4 acres of park land and was divided into eight management units of various sizes (see above map). The lead organization for the baseline study of this park section was the Riverine Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists.  The task force field team identified a total of 21 invasive plant species across all management units, including:

  • 9 species ranked with high invasiveness;
  • 7 species ranked with medium invasiveness; and,
  • 5 species ranked with low invasiveness.

The most prevalent invasive plant across all management units was winter creeper, an introduced vine species listed with medium invasiveness by DCR-DNH.  Based on the results of the baseline study, winter creeper appears to be growing locally with high invasiveness along the forest floor and climbing up most trees, as evidenced by a percent cover greater than 75 percent (Cover Class 5) in seven of the eight Huguenot Woods Flatwater management units.  This nearly ubiquitous high abundance of winter creeper consequently resulted in very high overall cover class values (i.e., Cover Class 5) for the same seven management units.  Only Management Unit “2b” was recorded with a lower cover class; however, invasive species in this management unit were still relatively high (Cover Class 3), due to dominant growth of multiflora rose and Chinese lespedeza in the understory. 

Aside from the prevalence of winter creeper, other important results include the identification of two invasive shrub species with high invasiveness (Chinese privet and Amur honeysuckle), which were found to be dominant components of the overall forest community within multiple management units.  In addition, other species that were not always dominant could proliferate further due to their high invasiveness ranking, or evidence of their ability be highly invasive locally.  These include tree-of-heaven, mimosa, Chinese lespedeza, European stinging nettle (Urtica dioica), Japanese stiltgrass, ground ivy, English Ivy, Japanese knotweed (Reynoutria japonica), and Japanese honeysuckle. Lastly, smaller infestations of Japanese hops, creeping lilyturf (Liriope spicata), and leatherleaf mahonia (Berberis bealei) were also identified.

Importantly, observations regarding the native plant community were also recorded by the task force volunteers and included native plant species often found within the James River floodplain.  Native species identified within forest interiors include box elder (Acer negundo), American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis), green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), black walnut (Juglans nigra), hackberry (Celtis occidentalis), hickories (Carya spp.), paw paw (Asimina triloba), bladdernut (Staphylea trifolia), spicebush (Lindera benzoin), wood nettle (Laportea canadensis), poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), and Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia).  Edge habitat along Riverside Drive also had native red bud (Cercis canadensis), trumpet creeper (Campisis radicans), sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua), red maple (Acer rubrum), and northern red oak (Quercus rubra), among others.  Native species were also identified in some forest clearings, including in black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta), partridge pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata), wingstem (Verbesina alternifolia), boneset (Eupatorium sp.), hog peanut (Amphicarpaea bracteata), and rose-mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos).

» Phase One Baseline Study Data Summary (PDF)

Updates from the study area

posted March 2019

University of Richmond’s engagement with invasive species management in Huguenot Flatwater began during the spring of 2016 as part of a collaborative effort with J.R. Tucker High School and the James River Association Leadership Academy. From this start, geography, environmental studies, and biology classes under three professors have participated in managing and tracking invasive species at the site.

The University of Richmond sends classes and volunteer groups to the site at least once or twice every semester, and has even sponsored goats to help remove invasive vines and shrubs from the understory while fertilizing the soil. Over 200 students have participated in the invasive species removal at Huguenot Flatwater. University students are also participating in two research projects on invasive species removal that will involve the Huguenot Flatwater.

Classes and volunteers work together to clear invasive species from Huguenot Flatwate
Classes and volunteers work together to clear invasive species from Huguenot Flatwater

Areas now cleared of invasive plants
Areas now cleared of invasive plants

Areas now cleared of invasive plants
Debris piles of the pulled invasive species

A primary focus at Huguenot Flatwater has been the removal of non-native shrubs (e.g., Chinese privet and honeysuckle) and vines (e.g., winter creeper). In order to better track our progress, ArcGIS Collector, a geospatial mapping tool, is being used to map the extent of area treated (Figure below). To date, students and volunteers have treated 37.8% of section 1C, 10.4% of section 1B, and 14.9% of section 1A.

Areas now cleared of invasive plants
Extent of area treated in Huguenot Flatwater as of November 2018.