Admire, if you will, the newest addition to my tool collection, the amazing Whatchamacallit. Lately it's been the perfect tool for removing two of the worst invaders in the wooded valley in back of my house - multiflora rose and greenbriar. Boyoboy it's gratifying to dig out crappy plants like these, roots and all, knowing they'll finally be gone, at least for a while.
If these horrible plants are new to you, I'll just say that multiflora rose isn't as nice as it sounds. It's truly one of those "alien invaders" we're always hearing about. Greenbriar, on the other hand, is something we almost never hear about - the native invader. In fact, many native plant advocates, especially the newly converted, will tell you that by definition, native plants can do no wrong. Well, somebody forgot to tell that to the greenbriar because, in the words of an astonished neighbor of mine, it "behaves really badly." To wit: smothering our beloved native woodland azaleas and any other desireable plants struggling to out-compete the junk plants that dominate this ecological mishmash. The explanation may have to do with all the other factors that have changed in the last 500 years since European invasion (and aren't we the worst invaders of all?) Maybe its competitors or the animals that eat it have become extinct, though it's hard to imagine an animal eating this prickly, disgusting plant. Here it is, though you'll have to imagine it even uglier and totally covering large shrubs and small trees.
Whatever their origin or the cause of their misbehavior, winter's a great time to get rid of them and did I mention how satisfying it is?