Thursday, February 16, 2012

Six Invasive Plants We Should Never Take Home

Garden Centers Are Selling These Invasive Plants

Periodically, I receive alerts from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The topics vary from the Emerald Ash Borer, to regional speakers who may be in my area.  But, the Invasive Plant alerts have had some startling information (at least to me) and so I wish to relay some of the plants that have become a problem.
First let me say that in my gardening history, I have paid good money on each of these plants. Little did I know that they would become a problem.

  Invasive plants become Invasive plants for several reasons. 
1)  They grow rapidly.  (That was one of the reasons I bought it. )
2)   They produce lots of seeds.
3)  They have no natural controls like diseases, or insects to inhibit their growth. 
4)  They grow well in a variety of conditions – soil – wet or day – shade or sun - ( Again, one of the reasons I bought these guys!)

So why are these attributes bad?  Let’s look at them.

berberis  barberry This Japanese  Barberry – Burberis vulgaris Japanese barberry I bought this (and still have it in my yard) because I like the burgundy leaf. I placed in with gold or light green evergreens as a nice color combination.  But look at the woods above.  This infiltration into woodlands is caused by this -  lots of berries – lots of seeds.
Japanese barberry with fruit Birds are actively spreading these berries and the plants are becoming invaders.
Another plant I have purchased is the Burning Bush – Euonymus alatus.  Again, it grows fast, and has great fall color – What’s not to like?

burning bush with fruit
burning bush invasivie As these plants spread, they choke out native shrubs, wildflowers, and understory trees.  Many wildlife creatures rely on the natives for food, and when their food become scarce, so do they.

calery pear The Calery Pear is really one I was so proud to plant in my yard.  It’s snowy blossoms in spring were breath-taking.

callery pear along roadside I regretfully take blame for this scene along many of our highways.  No matter which cultivar you see in the garden centers, they all have the potential to spread seed when pollinated by neighboring Calery Pears.  The ‘new’ variety along the hillsides are not intimidated and are truly invasive.

ohio%20dnap,%20purple%20loosestrife purple loostrife invades waterways Purple Loosestrife- Lythrum salicaria -  has been in my garden since the mid-seventies.  But because of the high seed counts, Purple Loosestrife is getting into ditches, and waterways.  Control of this plant is costly and time consuming. Just pulling it out does not seem to stop this and the damage to our wetlands is extensive.  Again natives that support the environment, are being squeezed out and effecting the eco-system of these areas.

priviet with blossoms privet with fruit Privet Hedge – Ligustrum - (my bad, again!) framed the front yard of many homes as I grew up.  This fence did not create a ‘good neighbor’ for our communities. 
Chinese privet Here is Chinese Privet in the woods.

This last invasive plant is really hard for me to come to grips with.  I have several, and the pollinators love it.  But this is just another example of how some plants were introduced into the landscape and have since become a problem.butterfly bush butterfly bush exscapee The Buddleia, or Butterfly Bush, has been so popular in the market place the past years that they quickly have shown us the down-side of them. They grow fast and spread easily.  If you are not willing to dead-head (remove) all spent blossoms, I suggest you leave this plant at the garden center, too.
Invasion of the plants I have mentioned today is affecting the bio-diversity of the natural woods, prairies, and wetlands in our communities.  Becoming aware of them is a good first step to controlling the problems they present. 
Controls using biological, mechanical , or chemical methods are costly to communities.  Volunteers are a key to management of these invasive plants.

Check with your local extension office, weed management office in your county, nature centers, and garden clubs to see what steps are in place to control invasives and where you can get involved.
Thanks for stopping by today.  c
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