From all the research I have done the problem of invasive plants in our gardens has become a lot clearer. The consensus definition of all the different research I have done is an invasive plant is one that has the ability to thrive and spread aggressively outside its natural range. Apparently that means that plants that grow naturally in an area can be invasive as well if taken from it’s habitat and moved to a new habitat
First of all it is important to understand that by overtaking an area invasive plants crowd out native plants and in some cases these aggressive invaders completely take over the area replacing the natives. This can cause devastation to fragile ecosystems.Ã‚ The insects, birds, and animals depend on these native plants for their survival if the habitat is destroyed it effects the population of these creatures as well. In some cases it may causes some species to disappear forever.
Some of these invasive plants not only grow aggressively and smother out competition they actually release toxins that prevent the natives from growing one such invasive plant is Spotted Knapweed it is starting to become a problem here in Illinois along roadways. Because of the toxins it releases it makes restoration of the areas very difficult and expensive.
Possibly the worst invasive species that are stating to spread through woodlands, meadows,and along the edges of forest are actually plants which come from our landscape. This is a real problem because as they spread they will degrade these areas and cause a loss of habitat for the wildlife that lives there. The following will surprise you as it did me but plants that are growing around many homes are appearing on invasive plant lists.
Japanese Barberry – This plant is easily propagated by seed and adapts easily to many growing conditions. Birds help to spread the seeds that may end up many miles from our homes.
Burning Bush This shrub is beautiful in it’s fall color but it has been reseeding it’s self and is now being found in filtered light areas along the edge of forest.
Ligustrum ( Common Privet) – This shrub is inexpensive and grows rather quickly it has been used as a fast growing hedge is the 1950’s. It readily reseeds and is showing up in places it does not belong.
Maiden Grass – Ah those beautiful plumes but the seeds take flight as they are swaying in the wind and this ornamental grass is starting to show yup along the edges of forests.
None of these plants are illegal to plant or grow and are available at most nurseries. The problem is that if they are not native to your area and are aggressive reproducers it may be better for you to try and find a similar plant that is native. You may find out more about invasive plants in your region by contacting your states Department of Agriculture