Southwestway Park is home to a large deposit of sand and gravel outwash known as a kame. From the crest of this feature on Mann Hill, it drops sharply to the east down to the West Fork of the White River. This slope contains a unique community of plants adapted to calcareous outwash. The canopy layer contains trees such as blue ash, chinquapin oak, hackberry, and Shumard oak that favor this substrate.
While mapping invasive species at the park, Eco Logic Senior Ecologist Kevin Tungesvick noted this unique feature and plant community. The slope is particularly rich in spring wildflowers such as prairie trillium, sessile trillium, celandine poppy, Virginia bluebells, bloodroot, firepink, hepatica, dwarf larkspur, and many others. Groundwater seeps add further diversity to this slope including such unique species as rose turtlehead. Unfortunately, this slope had been invaded by Amur honeysuckle resulting in 30 to near 100 percent coverage of invasive shrubs. Because Amur honeysuckle foliage emerges earlier than our native woody plants, it was threatening the spring flora by reducing their ability to photosynthesize in the spring sunshine.
Honeysuckle removal commenced in February 2020 utilizing cut-stump treatment. Approximately 30% of the area was cleared. That spring, the wildflowers showed renewed vigor in the cleared area. Winter cutting and treatment will continue until the entire slope is cleared.