Winter Newsletter 2019
President's Letter
Rusty Schmidt
Believe it or not, winter is a very busy time of year for the LINPI as we are focused on getting ready for our native plant production that begins in the spring. This means we are primarily focused on the cleaning, scarification, stratification and germination of the native seed we collected this past year. Scarification and stratification are likely terms that some of you are not familiar with, so let me explain... Think about how native seed germinates in the wild. For many of our native grasses and sedges, the seed either falls off the plant or is blown from the plant landing onto the soil once the growing season has ended. The winter then heaves the soil during the freeze and thaw cycle. This process actually scarifies or roughs up the seed a bit. As a result, the seed tends to be transported from the surface, deeper and deeper into the soil column, where it remains protected and "planted" throughout the cold winter months. The late winter/early spring rains soften the soil and the seed coat, allowing the embryo within to swell.  This moisture combined with warming temperature are signs of the conclusion of winter and the onset of optimum growing conditions, which signals the breaking of seed dormancies and provides the seed with an opportunity to germinate. In nature, the cold stratification process helps ensure that germination does not occur immediately following dispersal in the fall, rather after winter with the onset of the growing season.
The artificial stratification process that we put our collected seed through mimics this same process. We scarify/rough up our seed (especially those with hard seed coats) and place it in moist and sterile growing media in order for moisture reach the embryo, then keep it cool and in a dark environment through artificial methods that we can control, to ultimately mimic the cold period that the seeds would have endured in the wild. We utilize specific stratification techniques for the different native species we collect. Once this process is complete, we are now ready to start germination within the next few months.
Our harvest from our seed production (founder) plot provided us with a number of native seed species which include that of Switchgrass, Maryland Golden-aster, Hyssop-leaf Thoroughwort, Grey Goldenrod and Early Goldenrod. We also collected a number of species throughout many locations on the island that we will be growing out this year. Much of our winter months will be involved in cleaning and banking this seed for future plant material production. This includes our highest priority which is continuing to work on expanding our seed production plots to fill in the entire area this next season with a ton of new species. 

On another note, we are currently working on putting up two hoop houses that have been generously donated to us from a great local nursery. We will be constructing two 14 foot wide by 7 foot tall hoop houses in time for this spring's germination. The hoop houses are planned to be 90 feet long and fill a good portion of one tennis court at our Brentwood location within the Sisters of St. Joseph campus. We are also planning on installing a additional greenhouse that will lead to greater native plant production for our annual plant sales and further founder plot plantings. We hope to have these all completed before the spring planting and germination season. 

The Long Island Invasive Species Management Area (LIISMA) is a part of LINPI's programming and it would be remiss of me not to mention that LIISMA will be holding an Invasive Species Management Conference this April at the Sisters of St. Joseph campus. We conducted a very successful conference two years ago and plan to duplicate that effort with new speakers, topics and opportunities. More information on the program can be found at
Volunteer Opportunities
We depend on volunteer assistance and have a wealth of opportunities this winter including: 

Seed Cleaning
January/February 2019

Beginning Seed Germination
February - March 2019

Applying Weed Fabric to our Founder Plot
March - April 2019

Bumping up Seedlings & other Container Species
March - May 2019

LIISMA Partnership Meetings
January 17th, 2019 &
April 3rd, 2019

Invasive Species Curriculum Workshop
February 14th, 2019

2019 Invasive Species Conference
April 24th - 26th, 2019
Sisters of St. Joseph
1725 Brentwood Road, Brentwood, NY  
For more information & to register visit
Continuing Education Credits will be available.

Invasive Species Awareness Week
July 7th - 13th, 2019
To submit event ideas and activities in advance contact the LIISMA staff.

For more information regarding volunteer opportunities and event updates visit our websites:

Native Plant Spotlight
Ilex verticillata- Common Winterberry
Caroline Schnabl
Looking for a Long Island native shrub with undeniable winter interest? Common Winterberry ( Ilex verticillata ) could be the right native plant for you! The bright red berries on this clumping native holly brighten up even the dullest of winter days, with the berries persisting throughout the winter months into the early spring.

Ranging from 6 - 12 feet in height, this multi-stemmed suckering shrub takes on a rounded and upright habit when planted in full sun and acidic soil. Although the rounded form is best achieved in full sun, Common Winterberry can also thrive in the shady areas of a landscape within light or heavy soils, proving itself to be a very versatile species. These native shrubs can be used in mass-plantings, shrub borders, or specimen plantings.

Like some of our other favorite native shrubs, Common Winterberry is a dioecious plant; meaning that there are both male and female plants within the species (i.e. instead of both male and female reproductive organs/flowers being present on the same plant, they exist on separate individual plants). The notable red berries are only present on the female shrubs, therefore both male and female individuals need to be planted together in order to produce the fruit. Dioecious plants are typically wind-pollinated, so both sexes should be planted no further than 40 feet away from each other in order to promote successful fertilization. One male Winterberry shrub can pollinate up to ten female plants!

How can you tell the difference between the male and female plants without the fruit, you may be wondering? Well, when grown from seed, it is nearly impossible to tell the difference between the juvenile seedlings. However, when more mature, the way to tell the difference will be to look at the layout of the flowers on the stem. Male flowers are usually arranged in cluster formations, while the female flowers are usually found lining the stem individually or in pairs. The male (aka staminate) flowers also appear to have a hollow center, while the female (pistillate) flowers have a protruding green center, which is in fact the ovary.

The vibrant red berries of this native shrub aren't only pleasant to look at, but serve as a great food source for many species of wildlife as well. Over 50 bird species enjoy the tasty fruit, including the Cedar Waxwing, Mourning Dove, Northern Cardinal, Wild Turkey, and Blue Jay just to name a few. Other mammals such as deer, chipmunks, foxes, and cottontail rabbits also indulge in the delicious snack. However, although these attractive berries taste good to many wild animals, they can be poisonous to humans and other indoor pets, so leave them outside for your wildlife friends!

Common Winterberry will be available for sale at our upcoming Spring 2019 Plant Sale this June! Check our website for updates regarding the sale as the spring approaches.
This Season's Native Plants
Caroline Schnabl
Although many of the leaves have fallen and the days are shorter, there are still plenty of vibrant native plants that remind us of the beauty that is present within the winter months here on Long Island.
The bright red drupes and foliage of Rhus glabra (Smooth Sumac)
Eastern Red Cedar ( Juniperus virginiana ) is a small evergreen tree with tiny silvery pale blue berries that are both ornamental and edible to wildlife.

American Holly ( Ilex Opaca ) provides nesting areas for various species of songbirds within its attractive and dense evergreen foliage.

Christmas Fern ( Polystichum acrostichoides ) is of interest during this time of year because of its glossy green fronds that persist in color and shape throughout the winter months.

Pitch Pine ( Pinus rigida ) holds dark green/yellow needles that are quite noticeable and ornamental on a winter landscape due to its interesting growth habit and form.

Smooth Sumac ( Rhus glabra ) is one of the most useful and ornamental winter interest native plants on Long Island. The bright red drupes serve as an emergency food source for an overwhelming amount of different wildlife species; and it is extremely unique and vibrant in color.
Invasive Species Awareness
Trapa natans - Water Chestnut
Luke Gervase
Water chestnut ( Trapa natans ) is an aquatic invasive species that is sporadically spread throughout the Long Island Invasive Species Management Area (LIISMA). It is known to be in four aquatic systems on Long Island but is much more widespread throughout NY state. The invasive water chestnut, not to be mistaken with the edible type ( Eleocharis dulcis ) common in Asian restaurants, is native to Europe, Asia, and Africa and was first documented in the United States in the late 1800’s. This plant grows aggressively and impedes a majority of recreational activities.

For nearly all aquatic invasive plants, the winter is not the time of year to detect their invasions. However, water chestnut invasions are different as the disperse nuts that would still be evident even in the winter. The water chestnuts are buoyant and can be found washed up on shore any time of year. The nonviable blackish-brown nuts can be found along shorelines or in coves, and have very sharp, barbed points which can be incredibly painful for pets or humans to step on. When still viable, they appear more fleshy and green and will sink to the bottom of the water column and into the sediment, in order to emerge and grow into adult plants.

This plant poses huge ecological threats to our aquatic ecosystems. It can grow in water as deep as 16 feet and will eventually reach the water's surface. Water chestnut will block the sunlight from reaching native and more desirable aquatic plants, while also aiding other invasive species in out-competing the natives which leads to limited oxygen in the water. If found, it is imperative to remove the plant as soon as possible. The nuts are the plants main method of reproduction and can remain viable for 10 years after imbedding into sediment. If all plants are removed from the system before the nuts mature and drop (middle to end of July) there is little to no chance of the plant establishing a population. However, if not removed before nut drop, a decade of removal and monitoring efforts will be needed.

Water chestnut can be identified by its unique nuts and rosette shape that grows to the waters surface. There are not many other aquatic plants in our area that resemble water chestnut. If you suspect water chestnut is in a pond, lake, or stream near you, please report the finding in iMapInvasives or notify the LIISMA staff at
Early Detection & Rapid Response
Lycorma delicatula- Spotted Lantern Fly
Luke Gervase
Early detection rapid response (EDRR) is a concept used in invasive species management to quickly find an emerging invasive species and respond with rapid management actions that eradicate or minimize the invasions impact. In a vacuum, it is a perfect concept. However, we often discover invasive species when they are already heavily established and wreaking havoc on ecosystems. New York State is in a very opportune situation regarding a rather new invasive species to the United States, the Spotted Lanternfly ( Lycorma delicatula ).

Spotted Lanternfly (SLF) was first documented in the United States in Berks county, PA where it is considered to be a huge nuisance. Since the initial finding in 2014, SLF has spread to 13 counties in PA and has been documented in NJ, DE, VA, and NY. Within NY, the insect has been found in Delaware, Yates, Albany, Monroe, Broome , and Suffolk counties. Only a handful of insects have been found in these areas of NY, but SLF has not yet established a population in NY. Which puts us in the opportune situation of potentially preventing a full invasion from this devastating insect.

SLF is a plant hopper native to Asia and feeds on about 70 different species including but not limited to agricultural crops like grapes, tree fruit, hops, and nursery plants. SLF excretes a honeydew like substance that coats vegetation and fruits, leading to the growth of black sooty mold, which ultimately ends up damaging the plant and/or diminishes quality of agricultural products. SLF seems to prefer the tree-of-heaven ( Ailanthus altissima ) and has often been found on this species in the US either feeding or laying eggs. The tree-of-heaven is an invasive species itself, and is widespread within LIISMA and many other areas of NY. Tree-of-heaven being so widespread may act as a vector to aid the spread of SLF. SLF has four larval stages (in-stars). During the first three, the larvae appear black and white (Fig. 1), in the fourth instar the larva are red, black and white (Fig. 2) and adults appear spotted from above (Fig. 3). The adults lay eggs, which resemble masses of mud (Fig. 4) from September to November. SLF does not discriminate on where it will lay its eggs. Egg masses have been found on tree bark, stone, rusty metal, outdoor furniture, vehicles, and bricks.

If you suspect you have seen SLF eggs, larvae, or adults, please report it to For more information on the Spotted lanternfly, please visit this link .
Making an Impact:
Volunteer Opportunities
Caroline Schnabl & Steven Pearson
Volunteering is a great method of engaging within different communities, learning new skills and helping to complete an array of projects. Within LINPI and LIISMA there are many different volunteer opportunities available throughout the year.

We are happy to share that 2018 was a big year for LINPI in regards to the number of volunteer days that were held throughout the summer and into the fall. Our recent move to the Sister's of St. Joseph property in Brentwood required many helping hands to aid in getting our Founder Plot weeded and planted, and getting our new location looking its best. We are extremely grateful for all of our dedicated volunteers who came out to lend us a helping hand this past year to help us achieve our goals. We are looking forward to seeing you all again to lend a hand with our 2019 plant production!
Students from St. Joseph's College helping to get our Founder Plot planted in the fall of 2018.
... This winter LINPI will be working to prepare various species of native seeds for spring propagation. Volunteer opportunities regarding this include: seed cleaning, stratification preparation, tray thinning, and germination preparation. They will also be working to create new rows within our greater founder plot field in order to plant new species this upcoming spring. Throughout the coming growing season there will be plenty of volunteer opportunities including planting and maintaining the founder plots, as well as volunteering in the greenhouses for nursery production. To stay updated on current events of these volunteer events, visit LINPI's website or shoot us an e-mail.

During the winter months LIISMA will be performing mapping surveys of Japanese barberry, organizing workshops and a conference, as well as planning for the upcoming growing season. This growing season LIISMA will be forming a volunteer strike team and holding specific management events throughout the season for volunteers and professionals to participate in. Additionally, LIISMA has committees and working groups that rely on volunteers to make progress.
The committees that volunteers can join are 1. Terrestrial Invasive Species 2. Aquatic Invasive Species 3. Education and Outreach and 4. Early Detection's and Rapid Response. Committee members help to develop survey protocols, management plans, trainings and participate in public outreach events.

Between LINPI and LIISMA, there are plenty of opportunities for people of all ages and skill sets to get involved in. The community of volunteers is geographically spread out across the LIISMA region and spans all age groups. If you have any questions or want to learn more about the volunteer opportunities with LINPI please contact Caroline at and for LIISMA please contact Luke at .
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Board of Directors
Rusty Schmidt, President
Brian Smith, Vice President
Hannah Emouna, Secretary
Eric Alexander, Treasurer
Paul Anderson
Sue Avery
Michael Butts
Clara Holmes
Rebecca Kassay
Susan Paik
Laura Schwanof, RLA
Robin Simmen
Mina Vescera

Advisory Council

We extend many thanks to our generous sponsors!
Gary Gentile
Andrew Greller, PhD
Chris Kelly
Edward Toth
John Turner

Executive Director
Polly L. Weigand

Native & Invasive Plant Technician
Caroline Schnabl

LIISMA Program Manager
Steven Pearson

LIISMA Education & Outreach Coordinator
Luke Gervase

Newsletter Editors
Caroline Schnabl
LINPI Social Media Accounts
LIISMA Social Media Accounts