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
- Only plant native species in your garden
- Never dump yard waste into parks and natural areas
- Don't compost invasive species — like some house plants or cut flowers
- Don't buy wildflower seed mix
- Learn to identify some of Alberta, B.C. or Ontario's most unwanted plants (e.g., knapweed, leafy spurge, and oxeye daisy)
- 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