Page 8 - July 14, 2021
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{ 8 }  SNJ Today  |  JULY 14, 2021                                                                                                                                                                                                                               JULY 14, 2021  |   { 9 }
              THE GREAT OUTDOORS

     Roadside Vistas                                                With a plan in place, they can be

                                                                    low-maintenance—and picturesque.

     NATURE AROUND US                                                     J. Morton Galetto, CU Maurice River
        n the middle of June I had a morning   lay down my life for that one.   State mower prompts the author’s story.
        appointment in Hammonton. Driving   Invasive species out-compete our   INSET: Hypochaeris radicata with a common
     Inorth on Route 54 I found myself    native plants, and they don’t support native   name—false dandelion—that comes from its
     enjoying the false dandelions along the   wildlife life like indigenous plants that have   hairy leaves that resemble a cat’s ear. Note
     famously wide northbound shoulder. I   evolved to host them. They often crowd out   how flat the leaves lie on the ground, thus
                                                                               its other common name—flatweed.
     thought how considerate it was of the   natives and some are even made stronger
     road crews to leave this unmown sea of   by mowing—not a good thing. But I’ll admit
     yellow flowers that beautified either side   the splash of yellow did brighten up my
     of the road. The day was bright and sunny   travel. Still, a host of native plants would
     so their petals were open and their stems   be excellent alternative candidates for this
     outstretched to the east. It seemed idyllic.   strip of land.                                                                                   Sign posted just before the start of Route 54 grassy strip states “NJDOT Grassland Eco Mow
        My return trip was going splendidly   For the most part Hypochaeris radicata                                                                 Zone,” yet it was being mowed in the middle of June. It begs the question, “What schedule is
     until I came across a huge state mower   is considered a noxious weed. It is                                                                    it on and why?” Further investigation is necessary.
     busy keeping things tidy; my heart sank.   perennial and mowing won’t do much to
     I began to think of all my little battles   deter it. The leaves lie flat to the ground
     to leave patches of this and that plant   and thus it escapes the mower’s blades. You
     unmown so that a little interest and color   prevent the blossom from going to seed
     could be appreciated by travelers. Many   and being dispersed by the wind, but this
     states have instituted “no-mow” zones in   noxious invasive spreads via crown and
     the large median strips of highways where   root sections. It is normally controlled by
     they plant wildflower mixes for motorists   digging out the tap root or with herbicide.
     to enjoy. The Atlantic City Expressway   Asteraceae is normally said to be native
     actually saves money by planting flowers   to Europe but it has been introduced
     and thereby minimizing maintenance in   to the Americas, Japan, New Zealand,
     sections along the route.            and Australia. However, the Centre for
        It is amazing how many mixed      Agriculture and Bioscience International
     reactions these areas evoke, especially   (CABI) affirms that its native range is
     during no-blossom times—from         the humid Mediterranean woodlands
     “wonderous” to “dreadful hideous weeds.”   of Morocco, later expanded to a wide
     As you might guess I’m in the “Isn’t this   variety of habitats. Today it is common to   mild sedative, muscle-relaxant and anti-  The South Jersey Transportation
     lovely!” group of onlookers.         roadsides, orchards, vineyards, landscaped   inflammatory (Hindawi Journal- Abu-  Planning Organization (SJTPO ) has some
        I stopped and photographed the mower;   gardens, and often as a lawn weed, and is   Izneid, Abdur Fauf… et al v.2018 article #   really interesting visions for this unutilized
     I’m sure the operator was impressed. He   prevalent in areas east of the Mississippi   3868070).              grassy lane. The SJTPO in conjunction
     likely thought I was suicidal. What I do for   and on the west coast of the United States.   All parts of this herbaceous plant are   with Atlantic County is hoping to connect
     you, the readers! This article will explore   Colonists likely imported it to North   edible. The Japanese and Greeks grow it for   a network of multi-use trails for which
     the plant for which I was considering lying   America for its medicinal properties. Many   use in salads, and flowers and stems can be   this would be part of a 16-mile component,
     down in front of a tractor to prevent it   of our colonial plants were introduced for   steamed or sauteed, or roasted and ground   closing a gap in South Jersey’s trail system.
     getting a haircut—NOT! I might be odd but   their various uses. Today many impact our   to make a coffee substitute.   It would be a paved path much like those of
     I’m not daft nor do I harbor a death wish.   native species, prospering at their expense.   So what about the Route 54 right-of-  converted rails-to-trails that you may have
        Let’s explore the Pineland        Nevertheless it is interesting to know that   way? It’s clear that this route would be   traversed on occasion. Currently it is in the
     Commission’s efforts to protect rare flora   the herbal remedies the plant has been   both attractive and useful if planted with   study phase; you can find details at sjtpo.
     along roadsides and what the future might   used to address include kidney problems,   a native wildflower mix, so I wondered   org/acbikewaywest. For now, my input is
     hold for this wide right-of-way.     urinary tract infections, gall bladder   under whose jurisdiction the area fell.   “Neat, and please plant native plants for
        First the plant: Most readers have   issues, constipation, rheumatism, and liver   Apparently the State of New Jersey owns   pollinators along the route.”
     probably seen Hypochaeris radicata—false   problems. The root contains cortisone and   this Buena Township right-of-way. It   Although the false dandelions that
     dandelion, common cat’s-ear, flatweed,   has been used to treat allergies, rashes, and   appears to be about 150 feet wide for a   I admired turned out to be a ne’er-do-
     or gosmore, also known by a host of other   other itchy skin conditions. I discovered   stretch of five or six miles. Evidently it was   well invasive, many native plants do
     folk names—in their yards and along   one journal article in which a group of   originally thought that a bypass road could   need protection. In 2009 the Pinelands
     roadsides. It has basal leaves and sends up   scientists studied the biochemistry of   be accommodated there that would reroute   Preservation Alliance had Ecological
     a stalk with a single yellow blossom that   Hypochaeris radicata and concluded that   casino traffic from the south to the Atlantic   Solutions prepared “Best Management
     resembles a dandelion. It’s considered a   the traditional uses have prospective   City Expressway, bypassing the Mays   Practice for Pine Barrens Roadside Plant
     non-native invasive, so I’m happy I didn’t   pharmacological prospects as an analgesic,   Landing area. This was never implemented.   Communities.” Note the word choice of
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