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Help Stop the Spread of Invasive Plants

January 3, 2009

Photo by Softcore Studios

Photo by Softcore Studios

You are all probably in the midst of daydreaming about the coming growing season or maintaining your indoor gardens.  If you’re from Australia you may be tending to your tomatoes or carrots, but in any case, it is another year to swear off invasive plant species.  These alien invaders raise their twisted behaviors to demolish native plants, take over the countryside and add a new dimension to weed control.   It is a scenario that gives the Scotts chemists nightmares.

Invasive plant: Thrives and spreads aggressively outside its natural range.

Here in Oregon, I gleefully planted six ‘Butterfly Bushes’ and surprisingly a couple of years ago they were listed as invasive. Many of us unwittingly invite these alien creatures into our lives, and before we know it, we have acreage full of suckers, saplings and untraceable roots.

Common Invasive Plants

Invasive plant species can be very common such as St. Johns Wort, or something as uncommon as Mile-a-Minute, but they affect every state in the nation as well as Canada.  Unfortunately, many of the species were brought in to the United States in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s so we have inherited a legacy of problems but if we all remain vigilant collectively we can impact the “dread of spread.”  Many of the invasive species were brought in because of vanity, as ornamental, brought in accidentally or for other various purposes.  Either way, they are all weeds and should be treated as such.  Another problem with invasive species is that they are toxic or unpalatable to many of the native animals so their use is very limited, or there is no use, and are allowed to grow uninhibited.

One of the most famous invasive plant species is Kudzu, which was invited into the United States for erosion control but has become problematic in the Southeast and has crept west.  Kudzu has become such a mainstay that the residents have Kudzu recipes and Kudzu festivals to celebrate the invasion.

Decide carefully when encountering unknown, curious but attractive plantings:

  • If the greenery is from a friend find out exactly what it is. Take advantage of your local Extension Services or Universities.
  • If you snip cuttings from the “wild”, please reconsider but if you can’t resist, make sure of its origins.
  • Keep the new additions in a container if you are having a tough time distinguishing what exactly is at hand.

A complete invasive species lists can be found at www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov.  State information can be found at the website as well and is updated with new listings often.  If you live in Oregon, the Garden Smart Guide offers native and ornamental alternatives to common invasive plants.

Happy New Year!


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