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Friday, March 24, 2023
FairfaxPark Authority: Please leave vegetation alone

Park Authority: Please leave vegetation alone

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The Fairfax County Park Authority is asking residents to refrain from removing native grape vines from local parks and woodland areas.

Staff from the agency recently became award of grape vines being randomly cut in woods.

“Although it may be tempting, removing native grape vines, or any other plants, from Fairfax County parks and woodland areas, is illegal and may be harmful to the environment,” Park Authority officials said.

People may confuse these native vines for invasive vines and think they are doing a service for the tree. In fact, native vines – such as Virginia creeper, grapes and even poison ivy – usually coexist and do not harm trees, Park Authority officials said.


“Native vines have co-evolved with other native flora and fauna in our region, including the trees on which they grow, and can offer benefits to local wildlife,” officials said.

Virginia creeper berries are eaten by more than 35 species of birds; small and large mammals eat the plant’s leaves and stems; and several insects use Virginia creeper as a host for their larvae. The fruit of native grape vines also serves as a food source for birds and mammals, as do their leaves for several species of moth larvae, and the bark of the vines is used by birds as nesting material.

In addition, poison-ivy berries are a key winter food source for birds; poison-ivy flowers are visited by pollinators in the spring; and caterpillars, from moths and other insects, feed on the plants.

“The real tree-killers are invasive vines, such as porcelain berry, Oriental bittersweet, wintercreeper and English ivy,” Park Authority officials said. “These invasive vines can constrict tree trunks and choke native vegetation.”

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