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British Fight Rock Creek Invader

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It's not the only invasive plant in Rock Creek Park, not by a long shot. The park has drawn up a list of more than 40 invasive plants, like this Garlic Mustard.
Sabri Ben-Achour
It's not the only invasive plant in Rock Creek Park, not by a long shot. The park has drawn up a list of more than 40 invasive plants, like this Garlic Mustard.

By Sabri Ben-Achour

This morning, the British declared war in Rock Creek Park. Legions of them swarmed the woods to gain the upper hand against a rebellious offshoot that traveled from the British Isles to the New World and refuses to pay any heed to the Crown.

"Yes I think that's regrettably right," says British Embassy Press Secretary Martin Longden. "It's English Ivy, which is a very unwelcome intruder in Rock Creek Park."

The vine has become an invasive species, and volunteers from the embassy and the British School of Washington spent the day hacking away at it.

Tommy Madison and Oliver Cookwelling are 8 and 9 years old.

"We cut down English Ivy from the trees, because it would kill the trees."

More than just trees - it strangles entire hillsides, like the one John Sonnier was on. He's head gardener at the British Embassy Residence.

"What the English Ivy has basically done is cannibalize the landscape," says Sonnier. "All the natives that once were here are now gone because English Ivy will smother, shade them out."

Beth Mullen helped galvanize the Brits against the threat; she is the head of Friends of Rock Creek's Environment.

"It's not their fault, the British did not bring these vines to the park," she says, "although possibly they contributed."

She says there are dozens of invasive plants that trouble Rock Creek Park: European Garlic Mustard, Japanese Porcelain Berry. No word on whether more embassies will be recruited to join the fight.

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