Invasive plants – why should you care?

August 18, 2011

There is not enough awareness when it comes to invasive plants. We tend not to see the harm in planting an invasive plant precisely because it seems so harmless. How can a plant hurt anything?

An “invasive species” is defined as ‘an alien species whose introduction does or is likely to cause economic or environmental hard or harm to human health.’ (Executive Order 13112). 

Scabiosa

Scabiosa

An invasive species spreads, establishes its presence and takes over an ecosystem. It does not co-exist, it overtakes, chokes out the native species and diminishes biodiversity. It is devastating to the native ecosystems and costly to control.  Did you know? “Invasive species are a significant threat to almost half of the native species currently listed as federally endangered.”  Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Why should we care? Because native plants and habitats are important to our identity, sense of place and survival. To preserve ecosystems and biodiversity which are vital to our planet’s health.

Information about invasive species is spread out and often confusing. It is important to know the invasives for your particular region. Some website list them by state, some go as far as listing them by county. Below are some useful links to invasives in Texas.

Trees of Texas – Aggressive Invaders

Invasive Plants of Texas

Texas Invasive Species

Eco Alerts by Region

Central Texas Invasive Plants

Invasive Plants in Southern Forests

Some of the invasives are sold by nurseries and many buyers are unaware of the plant’s nature. Purple loosestrife and nandina are two fairly well known examples. Sterile varieties of some invasive species are available and can be used safely in the landscape. Some of the invasives might be a surprise to you – vitex and Brazilian vervain in Cross

Purple Loosestrife. Photo by Greencolander.

Purple Loosestrife. Photo by Greencolander.

Timbers and Prairies region (which includes Fort Worth) and scabiosa in Blackland Prairies region (which includes Dallas and Waco) are among a few that I was not aware of until recently.

Growers and sellers should be aware that they can be fined $500 per banned plant, so it is crucial to educate and raise awareness. It is also important to note that the plants on the banned list are defined broadly as species, and sterile varieties are not excluded as of yet. Read more about Texas cracking down on invasives.

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