Local News

Volunteers sought for exotic vine removal

— Area residents are invited to join Highlands Hammock State Park staff and volunteers for a major exotic removal workday Aug. 14 at Lake June-In-Winter Scrub State Park.

A massive outbreak of mordica charantia, commonly known as balsam apple or balsam pear, has occurred following prescribed burns that were conducted last winter and this spring, park officials said.

A member of the cucumber family, this exotic, invasive vine native to Africa and Southeast Asia is characterized by deeply lobed leaves, a bumpy yellow-orange fruit and seeds with a bright red pulp. Ripe fruits and seeds are toxic.

Volunteers should meet in the Lake June picnic area at 8:30 a.m. Long pants, hiking shoes, work gloves, sunglasses, sunscreen, insect repellent, cold drinks and water are recommended. An hour or two of volunteers’ time is appreciated, park officials add.

For more information, call the park services specialist at 471- 5324.