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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Sunday - May 28, 2006

From: Andover, MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Erosion Control, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Native plants to preserve soil on river bank
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I live in eastern Massachusetts. We have a small stream in our backyard and a woodland area on the other side. Japanese Knotweed is pretty well established on the opposite bank of the stream from our yard and has a few clumps on the near bank as well. Garlic mustard is also growing like crazy too. I'm determined to remove the knotweed and garlic mustard on this side of the bank, even if it takes several years. My question is what to do about the bare soil. Because its a riverbank I don't want to leave it barren for fear of erosion. Can you suggest any native plants that would do well to help restore the bank? It is mostly shady with rich soil from the leaf litter. Thanks

ANSWER:

American Globeflower (Trollius laxus) would be a good plant for this purpose. Moreover, it is a rare species (threatened in Connecticut) and you would be helping to conserve it by planting it by your stream. You may have a difficult time finding a supply, however. You might contact the Center for Plant Conservation for information about propagating the species on your property.

Other suggestions for plants that would do well by your stream include:
1. Foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia)
2. Beetleweed (Galax urceolata)
3. Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)
4. Canada Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis)
5. Any of the violets (Viola spp.) native to the northeast would also be a good addition to the area.

To find nurseries that special in native plants in your area you can search our National Suppliers Directory. Also, you might like to check the New England Wild Flower Society web page. They periodically have native plant sales.

 

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