Invasive Plant Task Force - James River Park System

Reedy Creek to Lee Bridge Study Area

Reedy Creek to Lee Bridge Study Area Map

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Click on map above to see detailed PDF.

Focus ProjectArea Update

The Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Natural Heritage Program Division (DCR-DNH) has focused its work within an approximately .876 acre area along the south side of the James River in between the railroad tracks and the Buttermilk Trail.  Located within Baseline Study Area known as “Reedy Creek to Lee Bridge”, the so-called HHA is located within subunit #2 of the baseline study area.


To date, DCR-DNH has conducted 8 workdays, approximately one per quarter since April, 2018. Preliminary goals were to reduce the spread of invasive species out of the work area by eliminating reproductive individuals, and establish an ecological & floristic baseline to monitor long terms floristic changes in the work area. Long term goals are to eradicate all invasive species from the work area and continue to monitor the area for vegetation recovery or reinvasion of invasives. 

A 10 X 10 meter vegetation plot was established in April 2018, with sampling methods directly comparable to those used across Virginia. All plant species were recorded in cover classes within nested subplots. An overall plant list outside the sample plot along with their general abundance is being maintained. A numeric tally and diameter measurement for each woody stem >1m in height is being implemented; to-date all large trees have been measured (>10cm dbh), and smaller trees have been recorded, with the exception of those in the 1-3 cm diameter class.

Vegetation Summary

The most frequent tree (>10 cm) is Box Elder (Acer negundo), but Ash (Fraxinus sp) currently comprises the highest basal area due, in part, to two >80cm dbh individuals, and three individuals >50 cm (NOTE: ALL ALIVE and seemingly healthy as of September 2019, a few unmeasured/completely dead stem in standing water).  Both Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) and Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) are represented by individuals greater than 100 cm, but in terms of combined basal area Platanus, Liriodendron, Ulmus, and Celtis are approximately equivalent. 

Asimina triloba is abundant and dominant in the midstory layer with a much lower amount of Spicebush (Lindera benzoin).  A significant and dense grove of Liquidambar is present and dominant along the northeastern perimeter closest to an impounded area.  Worthy of special note are several stems of Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum), due to the fact that they occur here outside their native range in VA.  Accordingly, they are listed on Table 1 (below) as an invasive species.  The small existing trees are currently found in the midstory,  but are likely to enter the canopy in the future unless control actions are taken.

Figure 2: Asimina triloba flowers & fruit; this species dominates the midstory now that Chinese Privet has been cutback

Invasive Species

Thirteen (13) invasive species had originally been recorded in this subunit according to the study area document.  Of these, only six (6) species have been documented by DCR-DNH in the work area. However, an additional nine (9) species not listed in the baseline study list have been located within the work area, and one additional “early detection” species for the James River Park system has been noted immediately adjacent to the work area (See Table 1)

Click on table image above to see full view.

Study area summary

The Reedy Creek to Lee Bridge study area includes approximately 45.8 acres of park land and was divided into four management areas of various sizes. The lead organization for the baseline study of this park section was the Friends of James River Park. The task force field team in this study area identified a total of 23 invasive plant species across all management units, including:

  • 11 species ranked with high invasiveness;
  • 8 species ranked with medium invasiveness; and,
  • 4 species ranked with low invasiveness.

Of these, three invasive plant species with high invasiveness are considered dominant components of the overall forest community (i.e., greater than 20 percent cover) within one or more management units, including tree-of-heaven, Chinese privet, and multiflora rose. More importantly, English ivy (a vine with medium invasiveness) had the highest abundance recorded of any species and was identified in Management Units 1, 2, and 3 at greater than 50 percent cover (Cover Class 4 or 5), reflecting its ability to be highly invasive locally. When combined with the results showing of dominant privet and multiflora rose, the overall percent cover for these management units was included in Cover Class 4 and 5 as well.

Native species identified across all management units include canopy trees such as tulip tree, American beech, white oak, and northern red oak, loblolly pine, and Virginia pine. Smaller saplings and shrubs in the understory can include any of these canopy species, as well as spicebush, paw paw, flowering dogwood, serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea), deerberry (Vaccinium stamineum), and mountain laurel. Other native species in the herbaceous and vine strata include river oats (Chasmanthium latifolium), roundleaf greenbrier, Christmas fern, lady fern (Athyrium asplenioides), deertongue grass (Dichanthelium clandestinum), and mild water pepper (Persicaria hydropiperoides). 

» Phase One Baseline Study Data Summary (PDF)