Monday, February 21, 2011

I'm no Poet Laureate...

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
They don't get around
Like the Invasive Plants do!!!

Dave Murphy, Welcome Harvest Farm
 January's Guest Speaker, Dave Murphy, from Welcome Harvest Farm, mentioned his interest in invasive plants during his very informative presentation on organic fertilizers/soil amendments.  Being inquisitive, I 'googled' my way through some material I thought might be of interest.  

Invasive plants are spreading aggressively throughout BC.  They are often mistaken as wildflowers.  What defines an invasive plant?  The Invasive Plant Council of BC defines the term "invasive plant" as any invasive alien plant species that has the potential to pose undesirable or detrimental impacts on humans, animals or ecosystems. Invasive plants have the capacity to establish quickly and easily on both disturbed and undisturbed sites, and can cause widespread negative economic, social, and environmental impacts. Many invasive plants have been introduced to British Columbia without their natural predators and pathogens that would otherwise keep their populations in check in their countries of origin.

Second to habitat loss, invasive species have been identified as the most significant threat to biodiversity. In 2000 (updated in 2004), the World Conservation Union collaboratively published a booklet identifying 100 of the World's Worst Invasive Alien Species, four -- Gorse, Japanese Knotwood, Leafy Spurge, and Purple Loosestrife -- of which currently exist in British Columbia. 

There are often several alternate species for some of these invasive plants. For example, instead of English Ivy, consider crinkle leaf creeper (Rubus calycinoides), Siberian cypress (Microbiota decussata), or wintercreeper euonymous (Euonymous x fortunei cultivars). Nurseries, garden clubs and websites can provide more information about alternate species suitable for a specific growing area.

Four Questions to Ask About a New Plant:  Before you plant a new species in your garden, ask yourself these questions. 
1.  "Will the plant be invasive outside my garden?"  The very characteristics that make a plant desirable -- easy germination, tolerance to drought and frost, rapid growth, and abundant seed production -- enable a plant species to become invasive.
2.  "If I order a plant from outside BC, could it be invasive in my environment?" 
3.  "What do I need to know from my local nursery or garden centre?  First find out if a plant is a 'fast spreader' or a 'vigorous self-seeder' in your planting zone.  If so, these are warning signs. 
4.  "Is there an alternate plant I can use instead of one with the potential to become invasive?"  Check the availability of alternative, non-invasive plants suitable for your area. 

The Invasive Plant Council of Bristish Columba offers some Outreach Material on their website.  One brochure of interest is "A Snapshot of the Grow Me Instead Booklet." 

Fast Facts
1.  The invasive Purple Loosestrife can make 300,000 seeds in one plant in one year and has    more than 120 different kinds of insects that feed on it in Europe where it’s from but has next to none here.
2.  Invasive plant seeds and parts can get caught in animal fur and spread to new places. We need to pull, bag, and toss them in the trash!
3.  One giant hogweed plant can produce 50,000 seeds per year! These seeds can still grow even after sitting around for 15 years! 
4.  There are an estimated 485 invasive plant species in Canada, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

Information found at

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