Invasive Plants--Just Don't Do It

Invasive Plants–Just Don’t Do It

It’s all fun and games, people, until some planet loses a species. You know what I’m sayin? I’m talking about invasive plants–you know, the pretty ones that are easy to grow and spread, and then take over the world? As we plan for fall gardening, let’s do our part to stop these botanical bad guys before they start…

Seems evil Russian computer hackers are not all that’s invading our world these days… In the botanical world, it’s all fun and games until somebody loses a species. You know what I’m sayin? As we think ahead to fall planting, we  need to make sure we are planting good. Jan Merryweather of California’s PlantRight reached out to me recently about the serious mischief of invasive plants, the second biggest threat to biodiversity after people. Shocking! She’s here today to tell us more. Take it away Jan…

What’s the fuss? Invasive plants ravage native habitat, alter soil composition, clog waterways and provide dangerous fuel for wildfires. By stopping invasive plants we protect our wild lands and native critters, not to mention our tax dollars. California alone spends over $82 million each year battling invasive plants.

Menacing Mexican Feathergrass:

 The photo above appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of Association of Professional Landscape Designers magazine.  “Planting for the Future” article is here.  The whole magazine is here.  Mexican feathergrass is the plant that everyone has been falling for, yet they have no idea that this mature plant produces 70,000 to 100,000 seeds per year, and because it easily re-seeds, is bound to become the next pampas grass debacle unless we can cut it off at the pass.  Thus the campaign!

Pernicious Pampas Grass

What can we do? On the West Coast, learn about PlantRight and their campaign to stop California’s next plant invasion before it starts. They’re working with plant breeders, growers and retailers to phase out invasives voluntarily. See the CA plant list here.

In New York this past July, there was Invasive Species Awareness Week, with workshops statewide. New Jersey is also recruiting citizen scientists to join their Strike Team and nip invasives in the bud. In the South, the University of Georgia’s Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health offers some wild (literally) ideas for dealing with invasive plants, post-invasion.

Scurrilous Scotch Broom

Many of our problem plants were introduced via the nursery chain. Not with mal intent, but simply because the plants were deemed beautiful or useful. (It seemed like a good idea at the time…) In California, examples include pampas grass, scotch broom and green fountain grass. In the Northeast, there is oriental bittersweet, barberry and purple loosestrife. In the South, kudzu !

Plants contribute spiritually, aesthetically and physically to our  personal well-being  and to our local economies. Let’s do what we can to help the good guys, and not the guys in these photos.

Vicious Vinca Major


See also this piece about PlantRight from the LA Times a few days ago. They are always copying me, I swear.  

Thanks again, Jan!

Happy (Non-invaive) Planting, Readers! 


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