An evaluation of seven methods for controlling mountain laurel thickets in the mixed-oak forests of the central Appalachian Mountains, USA
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Forest Ecology and Management
In the Appalachian Mountains of eastern North America, mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) thickets in mixed-oak (Quercus spp.) stands can lead to hazardous fuel situations, forest regeneration problems, and possible forest health concerns. Therefore, land managers need techniques to control mountain laurel thickets and limit their deleterious effects. From 2001 to 2009, I compared the effectiveness of seven understory management techniques (two chemical, two fire, two mechanical, and an untreated control) for reducing mountain laurel thickets. All of the methods except the control decreased mountain laurel coverage for at least 2 years and facilitated establishment of oak seedlings and other hardwood reproduction. However by the fifth year, the mountain laurel thickets had nearly redeveloped and the reproduction of several other hardwood species were outgrowing the oak seedlings. Additionally, all of the methods had operational issues that limited their effectiveness. Research into broadcast herbicides that kill the mountain laurel long-term and prevent redevelopment is needed as none of the techniques tested in this study provided effective control beyond a few years.
Brose, Patrick H. 2017. An evaluation of seven methods for controlling mountain laurel thickets in the mixed-oak forests of the central Appalachian Mountains, USA. Forest Ecology and Management. 401: 286-294. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2017.06.041.