Muir Woods Nature Detectives



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Plant Invasion

How do non-native plants threaten a forest community?

Read about all the different plants and animals in this part of the forest.

To learn more about the plants and animals, click through to their descriptions in the notebook.

Answer the questions afterwards and you'll earn a certificate!

Many plants make their home along the watershed in the redwood forest, creating habitat for many animals. Some plants should not be growing here – they are called non-natives and they destroy habitat for animals that make their home here. Seeds of these plants sneak into the forest on the shoes or clothes of visitors, in the fur or stomachs of animals, or sometimes they wash down the creek from other places. Use your notebook to figure out which plants do not belong in the forest and remove them. Do not remove native plants! They are important for the animals here.

A creek runs through this part of the redwood forest.
Listen to the sound of the water flowing using the player here, or on a new page.

Crowding between the stones in the creek bed are thick clumps of ehrharta grass. On the forest floor grows the delicate, clover-shaped redwood sorrel. Spreading over the redwood sorrel patches are pretty, blue flowered forget me nots. In a sunny spot, the orange flowers of a sticky monkey bush attract bees and hummingbirds to it. Taking over the sunny spots and choking out the native plants is a whole bunch of tall French broom. Climbing over the plants and trees to get to the sun is some thick English ivy. In the shade close to the ground grows Solomon’s seal. Sonoma chipmunks scamper in the sunshine by the creek in search of thimbleberries. A grey squirrel nibbles on the round-leafed miner’s lettuce. A raucous Steller’s jay watches from the trees above for visitors to drop food. Blooming along the creek are colorful leopard lilies, which attract tiny Anna’s hummingbirds. Grazing quietly on western sword ferns and elk clover is the quiet black-tailed deer. In the distance, a grey fox stealthily hunts for small prey. A northern-spotted owl closely surveys the forest scene from a nearby tree branch, in hopes of a dusky-footed wood rat to eat. Leaving a sticky trail behind it, a banana slug slowly crosses the forest floor.

PIcture of the forest with the plants and animals in it.

See a zoomed in view of this picture in a new window. Or, see a panorama of this location in a new window (requires Flash).

Choose if you think these plants should be kept or removed:

Redwood Sorrel
English Ivy
Miner’s Lettuce
French Broom
Western Sword Ferns
Elk Clover
Leopard Lily
Forget-Me-Nots
Sticky Monkey Flower
Ehrharta Grass
Solomon’s Seal
Thimbleberry

Now answer the questions in this quiz to earn your certificate!

Question 1

Which non-native plant climbs up redwood trees and kills them by stealing their light?


Question 2

Which native plant has specially adapted leaves that fold up in the sun?


Question 3

Which non-native plant increases the danger of fires?


Question 4

Which native plant grows berries for birds to eat?


Question 5

Which native plant attracts hummingbirds?