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Brentano Tackles Invasive Species at the Forest Preserve
Deer Grove Natural Areas Volunteers remove garlic mustard, Japanese barberry


Early Saturday morning, May 18, a brave group from Brentano ventured into the deep woods of the Deer Grove Forest Preserve to pull garlic mustard. With only a few weeks until the flowers of the garlic mustard plants would go to seed — and allow the invasive species to spread — Brentano joined the Deer Grove Natural Areas Volunteers in their fight against time and invasive species.

What started as a beautiful morning “picking flowers,” in the words of one Brentano volunteer, became violent when the team turned their loppers to three more stubborn invasive species: Japanese barberry, multiflora roses and buckthorn.

For Brentano Designer Aaron Mensik, the thorns and prickles called to mind a quotation from Thomas Jefferson: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” Which begged the question, was the blood of patriots from native species that got lopped by mistake or all of the Brentano workers who wore short sleeves?

Since the early 1990s, Deer Grove Natural Areas Volunteers have diligently removed garlic mustard from the Deer Grove Forest Preserve, but pockets of the invasive species remain. They depend on volunteers, like those from Brentano, to work towards their goal “to restore the natural communities of Deer Grove West to pre-settlement conditions, and to enable them to support the native plant and animal communities historically found in Deer Grove Forest Preserve.”

Brentano at Deer Grove Forest Preserve
Before Brentano goes into the deep woods of the Deer Grove Forest Preserve

Aaron / Japanese barberry

  • Aaron explains how the branches of Japanese barberry were used as a yellow dye for textiles.
  • Brentano’s guide Ron paints the stump of a Japanese barberry shrub, an invasive species, with a poison
Garlic Mustard Busters
Garlic mustard busters

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