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Invasive Species: the Good News and the Bad News

April 15, 2020

Mile-a-minute vine grows more than 25 feet in height in one growing season while covering and smothering forest trees.

Got Nature? Blog: Many of our favorite plants have multiple personalities. There is a good side and a bad side, shown especially when they escape the landscape and spread to our native areas, becoming invasive. When it comes to invasive plants in landscapes, there is good news and bad news. The bad news is that invasive plants are planted intentionally as ornamentals, and several species known to be invasive are readily available for sale from nurseries and garden centers. The good news is that there are many beautiful plants to choose from that are not invasive. Indeed, while many of the most picturesque garden plants are not native to the Midwest, the majority are not invasive. For example, hosta, smoke tree, boxwoods, Japanese tree lilacs, dwarf shrub junipers, and serviceberry are all non-native to the region but are not known to be invasive. However, brad ford pear, red barberry, burning bush and other “go-to” landscape plants are damaging our natural ecosystem by establishing themselves where they really aren’t welcome. These plants should be avoided and even considered for removal and replacement.

Several professional landscape and nursery organizations have taken the charge in eliminating these harmful plants. They believe invasive species adversely affect the integrity of ecosystems and cause both environmental degradation and economic harm. Invasive species - whether they are plants, animals, fungi, or insects - may cause deterioration of native habitats and plant communities as well as damage to designed and managed ecosystems. Because invasives reduce biodiversity and disrupt the healthy structure and function of both native and human ecosystems, planners, contractors, arborists, landscape architects and other green industry professionals should not introduce or support the use of known invasive species. And, where they are already existing, steps should be taken to eradicate them.

Read the publication Commercial Greenhouse and Nursery Production: Alternative Options for Invasive Landscape Plants for more information. Also, here are several online resources for details on invasive pests:
Midwest Invasive Plant Network
Indiana Invasive Species Council
Indiana Wildlife Federation

To view more Got Nature? posts on Invasive Species:
Woodland Invaders
What are invasive species and why should I care?

For More Images >>>

Indiana DNR Division of Forestry
Indiana Invasive Species Council
Report Invasive, Purdue Extension
Commercial Greenhouse and Nursery Production: Alternative Options for Invasive Landscape Plants, The Education Store, Purdue Extension’s resource center
What Nurseries Need to Know About the Invasive Species Regulation, The Education Store, Purdue Extension’s resource center
Invasive plants: impact on environment and people, The Education Store, Purdue Extension’s resource center

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

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