Thursday, December 24, 2009
Last week Jeff kicked off a lively discussion about invasive plants. Let me state up front that no one on this blog is promoting invasive plants. But the issues surrounding invasive plants are extremely complex and have profound implications for many groups with whom we work in landscape horticulture and urban and community forestry. It is essential in these discussions that we separate fact from hyperbole. In some quarters, lines have been blurred and people fail to make key distinctions and lump exotic, alien, or non-native species together with invasives. According to the Federal Executive Order on Invasive species 'Invasive species' means an alien species whose introduction does or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health. All invasives are alien but only a small fraction of alien species are invasive (all humans are mammals but not all mammals are humans). Nevertheless, there is a temptation to ‘hedge all bets’ and promote only native species for horticultural planting since native plants, by definition, cannot be invasive. In addition, there is a ‘feel good’ aura that surrounds native plants – if they’re native they must be good – that clouds some of the logic in the argument.