I mentioned in my last column that I would discuss in some detail the subject of "non-native invasive species of plants." I must confess that in past writings I have not paid much attention to these so-called "non-native invasive species." I knew of only three such plants that we had previously planted here at the farm, multiflora rose, autumn olive, and Japanese barberry. (I think I may be able to find one or two barberry plants, but certainly not a multiflora rose as they have been gone for years.) Although I have never planted a burning bush, even though I found them most attractive, I had learned that they were listed as being on the "invasive" list of prohibited plants, so have never planted any.
Much to my surprise, in conducting this recent research, I found that instead of being just a few species of plants that have been prohibited for sale in New Hampshire, the plant list is a lengthy one. According to information received from the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, "Present New Hampshire law that went into effect in 2000, RSA Chapter 450:55, known as the Invasive Species Act, is currently enforced by the N.H. Department of Agriculture" under Rule # AGR 3800.1."
AGR Rule 3800.1 reads: "No person shall collect, transport, import, export, buy, sell, distribute, propagate, or transplant any living and viable portion of any plant species, which includes all of their cultivars and varieties, listed in Table 3800.1, New Hampshire Prohibited Plant Species List".
The "common names" of plants covered by Rule # AGR 3800.1 include the following 27 species: "Norway maple, tree of heaven, garlic mustard, Japanese barberry, European barberry, oriental bittersweet, spotted knapweed, black swallow-wort, pale swallow-wort, autumn olive, burning bush, giant hogweed, dame's rocket, water-flag iris, perennial pepperweed, blunt-leaved privet, showy bush honeysuckle, Japanese honeysuckle, Morrow's honeysuckle, Tartarian honeysuckle, Japanese stilt grass, Japanese knotweed, mile-a-minute vine, Bohemia knotweed, common buckthorn, glossy buckthorn, and, multiflora rose."
Variance: Persons conducting temporary scientific studies, which may include hybridization of seedless species may apply for a variance to do so by contacting the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture Markets and Food Division of Plant Industry. For additional information, contact Douglas Cygan, Invasive Species Coordinator, NHDA Division of Plant Industry, State Lab Building — Lab B, 29 Hazen Drive, Concord, 03301, 271-3488, (www.agriculture.nh.gov).
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Here at the farm our resident woodchuck (or one of "our" woodchucks) has just dug out from a large snowbank and is grubbing through such grassy areas that it can find currently exposed. New grass, with some clover mixed in, is a favorite feeding ground for itself and its kin, and especially appreciated after the passing of our long winter.
I had held back part of a mid-January letter from a long-time Weare reader. The gentleman wrote in part: "There are numerous days throughout the years that I observe things that I feel would be of interest to you and others. I am 74 years old and have ample free time to enjoy my farm and the surrounding area. Your article about the black chipmunk reminded me of a very large and very black woodchuck that I dispatched in 1953. I probably was gray squirrel hunting at the time, but I did have a black and white collie that would kill woodchucks, then come and get me as she barked excitedly and would run back into the woods to return once more running from its conquest begging me to return with her to admire her catch."
The photo enclosed was of an excellent melanistic (black) specimen, being opposite from an albinistic (white) woodchuck. I have never seen either a black or white woodchuck in the wild, so I turned to W. J. Schoonmaker's book, "The World of The Woodchuck," published in 1966, by J. B. Lippincott Company of Philadelphia and New York.
"Melanism is an over abundance of dark pigment in the skin and hair. I have noticed that black woodchucks are not conspicuous because of their color, and melanism does not affect their eyesight. Therefore the black animals have a greater chance of survival than the conspicuous white ones.
Albinism is said to be recessive to the ordinary dominant, or natural color of an animal. Apparently a combination of the inherited recessive character for albinism from normally colored parents is passed on to some of the young, resulting in an albino."
Stacey Cole's address is 529 W. Swanzey Road, Swanzey 03446.