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Invasive Plant Species in our Urban Areas

February 27, 2017
Planting tree.

Many of the invasive plant issues we experience in the urban ecosystem is due to improper plant selection when landscaping our homes and businesses. Often times, nurseries and garden centers stock trees and shrubs that create major issues in nearby natural areas. Landscapers everywhere seek beautiful, unusual, exceptionally hardy, drought-tolerant, or fast-growing plants. Unfortunately, plants selected for their resilience may be invasive because of their adaptable nature. Plants selected for their aesthetic value may be hard to banish from garden centers even after their invasive tendencies are revealed. These plants are typically prolific seed-producers which birds deposit everywhere creating competition for native plants.

Invasive species are damaging because they:

One of the worst offenders for invasive qualities is the Callery Pear. This ornamental pear, famous for its prolific white flowers in spring, creates a beautiful display in many landscapes. However, it is a poor choice for two major reasons. It is highly invasive and can take over entire natural areas with its heavy seed production. In addition, it is a very weak-wooded tree with poor branch structure, leaving it susceptible to splitting and breaking under heavy winds. Check out this publication for more information on the Callery Pear.  See Invasive Plant Species: Callery Pear video for more information.

To help prevent the spread of invasive species, choose plants wisely. Use the following publication as a guide for alternatives for invasive landscape plants, Commercial Greenhouse and Nursery Production: Alternative Options for Invasive Landscape Plants.

Invasive Plant Species: Callery Pear – The Education Store, Purdue Extension Resource Center
Invasive Plant Species: Oriental Bittersweet – The Education Store
Invasive Plant Species: Wintercreeper – The Education Store
Invasive Plant Species Fact Sheets: Poison Hemlock – The Education Store
Mile-a-minute Vine – The Education Store
Commercial Greenhouse and Nursery Production: Alternative Options for Invasive Landscape Plants, The Education Store
Invasive Species – Purdue Extension
Indiana’s “Most Unwanted” Invasive Plant Pest List – Indiana Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey (CAPS) Program
Indiana Invasive Species Council – Includes: IDNR, Purdue Department of Entomology and Professional Partners
Invasive Species – Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)

National Invasive Species Awareness Week: February 27-March 3, 2017

Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forestry Specialist
Purdue University, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

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