Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Invasive Plants - who knew?

To be filed in the: As if I don't have enough to be guilty of already category, I borrowed a book from the library entitled "Plant" by Janet Marinelli, she of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Director of publishing which lists several endangered and invasive plants.

It is common knowledge that plants like Purple Loosestrife Lythrum salicaria, Kudzu, Oriental Bittersweet Celastrus orbiculatus, Russian Olive Elaeagnus angustifolia, etc. are foreign invasives and should be eradicated or at least not planted but there are many plants that I did not know and have even planted that are purported to be invasives.

Here's a partial list of commonly seen invasives: Bishop Weed Aegopodium podagraria, Japanese Barberry Berberis thunbergii, Butterfly Bush Buddleja (Buddleia) davidii, Crocosmia, Common Foxglove Digitalis purpurea, California Poppy Eschscholzia californica, Japanese Bloodgrass Imperata cylindrica, Butter and Eggs Linaria vulgaris etc.

I just planted some Bishop weed and have planted Barberry (actually we inherited this plant so it doesn't count?) Butterfly bush, Crocosmia, Foxglove, California poppy and Japanese Bloodgrass. So I'm guilty as charged. Apparently these plants out-compete natives by spreading and establishing quickly and are easily dispersed by the wind or birds and animals. All of these plants are readily available in nurseries so what's going on here? I guess we can't be ignorant to think that nurseries only sell plants that don't threaten the native species.

What I though was a buttercup Ranunculus repens, prettily blooming in a waste construction area may actually be a Sulfur cinquefoil Potentilla recta. Of course I had to rescue the plant but it's already created many babies around the mother plant so it may have to come out.

Was blissful in ingnorance.


Blogger Jenn said...

How did you know I was going to write about this?

Hah! You scooped me!

I'm going to take a different tack to my approach, all should be well.

2:49 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Jenn, Great minds think alike ;) Will be interesting to read your take on this subject. Thanks for coming by.

7:22 PM  
Blogger Rurality said...

I would never have guessed that the Butterfly Bush was considered an invasive. Lord knows I've killed them easily enough! :)

2:31 PM  
Blogger Kasey said...

Has anyone ever dealt with the invasive Cuscuta pentagona, commonly called Dodder? It's a parasitic plant with no root system or leaves, and can actually "sniff" out it's favorite host plant (which happens to be tomatoes). It seems to grow everywhere, but last summer was the first time it was in my area. It took over one of my Wave petunia baskets this past summer, and was a real nightmare. I'm afraid of what this spring will bring. If anyone would like more information, check out this link:

6:04 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Rurality, Almost any nursery has butterfly bush for sale so it's hard to believe it's a pest. Apparently the Pacific NW and MidAtlantic states are having problems with the windblown seeds sprouting in unwanted places. We have had several volunteers from the original one the formers owners had planted. It was so enormous, ugly and right next to the deck so I removed it. But just last year we bought another one to attract butterflies. Now I'm in a quandry, should be resposible and dig it out or let it be?

Hi Kasey,
I've never come across the Suscuta pentagona. Interesting plant even if it is parasitic. I guess if you're a tomato grower you wouldn't think that. Thanks for the info.

Here's a beautiful picture on the U. of Wisconsin Stevens Point site:

Thanks for stopping by.

5:56 AM  
Blogger Blackswamp_Girl said...

Ki, I knew about barberry and butterfly bush... but some of the other plants were new to me as invasives! I am wondering how the Japanese bloodgrass is "invasive"--I thought it was just aggressive, as it spreads by root? Wouldn't it have to literally be introduced to the wild as plant? (I have never seen inflourescences, but I know that flowers can be tricky.)

Maybe I ought to cross California poppies off of my spring seed wishlist...

6:18 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Kim,
The caution about Calif. poppies Eschscholzia californica is that it should not be planted where there is a risk escaping into open countryside as it self seeds vigorously and is found throughout N. America as it is often sold in wildflower seed mix. It competes with natives in grasslands.
Japanese bloodgrass Imperata cylindrica apparently is not as invasive as the wild type but it apparently may hybridize with the wild type and spread by small windborne seeds dispersed over great distances. I don't know what the wild type looks like but I guess the danger is that some may sell it as some kind of decorative grass not knowing about the invasiveness and ability to hybridize with Japanese bloodgrass.
So I guess you're pretty safe with Japanese bloodgrass and if you live in town w/o the C. poppies able to escape into the open countryside you should be ok. I'm guilty of planting both and the poppies do come up every year after the intial planting 5 years ago. The bloodgrass stays where it is and doesn't spread much so I don't know what to do about it.

5:46 AM  

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