Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site

Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site

Plants

Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site contains over 160 species of plants.  Approximately 89 species of these plants are considered native to the area.  Several species of trees can be found along the Saugus River within the riparian woodlands. Examples include white and scarlet oaks, American beech, shagbark hickory, black walnut, black cherry, black willow, red and silver maples, and boxelder. Many of these trees provide food to the native birds, squirrels, and chipmunks by producing seeds and nuts.

At least 27 species of plants are found within the wetland areas surrounding the Saugus River. Many of these plants are common throughout the marsh, such as narrow-leaved cattail. The tall wetland vegetation provides excellent habitat for nesting red-wing blackbirds and other bird species and breeding fish, such as the fourspine stickleback.

Wildflowers are also abundant throughout the year at Saugus Iron Works. Jack-in-the-pulpit, skunk cabbage, jewelweed, goldenrod, and several species of asters can be found throughout the historic site. Saugus Iron Works is also home to three species of fern: sensitive fern, cinnamon fern, and lady-fern.

Nonnative Species

Although Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site contains numerous species of native plants, animals, and other organisms, non-native species can be easily seen within the historic site.  Many of the non-native species at Saugus Iron Works are classified as plants.

In 1996 and 1997, a plant inventory was conducted by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden to determine the plant diversity within the historic site. One hundred and sixty species of plants were identified within Saugus Iron Works. Of these 160 plant species, 59 are non-native and 11 of these 59 species are considered non-native and invasive.

Many species, such as the plants found in the Iron Works House 17th century herb garden, are considered non-native, because these plants are originally from Europe or Asia. However, these herbs are not classified as invasive, because they do not outcompete native plants for sunlight, water, nutrients, and habitat within Saugus Iron Works.  Other non-native plant species, such as Norway maple (Acer platanoides) and common reed (Phragmites australis) are considered non-native and invasive because these plants are able to outcompete native plants. As non-native invasive plants continue to outcompete native ones, the populations and species of native plants start to decline.

In 2003, National Park Service staff conducted a survey of Norway maple, common reed, and other non-native invasive plants within the historic site. The primary goals of this survey were to identify which invasive plant species inhabit the site, determine the population densities of the invasive plant species, and map where the invasive plant species occur within the historic site. The survey identified and mapped 11 primary invasive plant species and listed an additional 31 secondary exotic plant species within Saugus Iron Works. This survey is currently being used by park staff to control and monitor the 11 primary non-native invasive plant species.