Photo: Stop the spread of invasive plants

Are you aiding and abetting (plant) invaders? Make amends; become an ivy buster! (Credit: Stanley Park Ecology Society)

Invasive plants are good at wreaking havoc. But many wouldn't be so successful if they didn't have our help.

English Ivy, for example, will kill a native tree within 15 years. About 30 per cent of Stanley Park, Canada's urban jewel has already been invaded. Volunteers known as Ivy Busters must physically remove the plants.

Have you ever planted something in your garden without knowing exactly what is was? Ever composted a house plant?

English Ivy came to Canada as an ornamental from Europe. And it's still widely available from nurseries and garden stores (I have some — it was there when we bought the place and now it holds up my fence). It's become quite well established in southern Ontario, southern British Columbia and beyond.

Ever spread a "wildflower" seed mixture or planted an ornamental?

What you think is a beautiful wildflower might actually be an invasive weed. These plants thrive without any natural predators or pathogens that would normally keep them in check, and spread through natural areas, city parks, and farmland at alarming rates. Controlling invasive species in your own backyard will go a long way to reducing threats to global biodiversity.

Six steps to help stop the spread of invasive plants

  1. Only plant native species in your garden
  2. Never dump yard waste into parks and natural areas
  3. Don't compost invasive species — like some house plants or cut flowers
  4. Don't buy wildflower seed mix
  5. Learn to identify some of Alberta, B.C. or Ontario's most unwanted plants (e.g., knapweed, leafy spurge, and oxeye daisy)
  6. Volunteer for a local stewardship or conservation group to remove invasive species

Gardens, parks, and forests are not only good for the birds and the bees. Green spaces encourage people to be physically active, and being active means reduced stress — so people who live near green spaces are also healthier.

How do you stop the spread of invasive species to help protect the health of local green spaces?

Lindsay Coulter, Queen of Green

July 11, 2011

Read more

Post a comment


Aug 05, 2011
2:59 PM

SOME invasive plants are edible and /or medicinal … do an inventory of the “weeds” in your garden and start eating them! Contact your local herbalist, botanist, survivalist, gardener, or agricultural specialist to help you safely learn which plants to “harvest” and which ones to “weed”.. Many of the plants that have spread throughout North America were brought here by ancestors from various continents, who well knew their value. Many have spread not only because of their reproductive enthusiasm, but also because people stopped collecting and using them, and started buying a more limited selection of green foods in commerce. Many wild plants have a broad selection of micro-nutrients that can make a real contribution to improved health. It’s really not that hard to learn what’s safe to consume and what’s not.

Aug 03, 2011
1:36 PM

Thanks so much for that, Donna!

Aug 03, 2011
9:15 AM

The plant Erika describes is spurge laurel. It is poisoness, out competes native plants and because it is attractive most peope don’t realize how bad it is. Be careful during removal as it causes skin irritation. Eating the berries can be fatal. Read more at

Jul 13, 2011
6:21 PM

Another Kind of Genocide Invasion Biology: Critique of a Pseudoscience By David Theodoropoulos Go read this first before you go kill off everything that you don’t think belongs here.​otics.html

Jul 12, 2011
1:18 PM

I enjoy pulling out invasive plants in the garden, except when I realise how widespread the species is and how easily it multiplies. My mother thought it was a pretty shrub but recently found out it’s invasive. I haven’t been able to find out what it’s called, however. Its leaves remind me of a schefflera and it has rabbit pellet-like, very dark purple berries (seeds) that fall off easily. (Hence the ease at which it spreads.) It can grow quite a hefty stalk. Does anyone know what this Lower Mainland plant is called?

Jul 11, 2011
3:36 PM

Beautiful but deadly to native habitats, invasive plants can be and need to be reined in. Stanley Park Ecology Society has regular community hands-on educational events to empower the public to take back our wild spaces. For information, contact

Jul 11, 2011
2:49 PM

Currently the safest option to dispose of invasive plant material is to place it in your household garbage, not the compost. This is because there are still uncertainties about the ability of our regional facilities to compost all invasive plant parts, particularly seeds. If invasive plants are placed in the compost stream and they are still viable, then anyone who uses this compost will be unknowingly spreading these plants. It is hoped that the invasive plants disposed of in the landfill will be buried deep enough to stop their growth and that the site will not be disturbed in the long term, thus preventing their regrowth or spread.

The David Suzuki Foundation does not necessarily endorse the comments or views posted within this forum. All contributors acknowledge DSF's right to remove product/service endorsements and refuse publication of comments deemed to be offensive or that contravene our operating principles as a charitable organization. Please note that all comments are pre-moderated. Privacy Policy »