Nonnative plant invasions can be seen in natural areas, croplands, rangelands, pastures, forests, wetlands and waterways, wilderness areas, parks and refuges, and highway rights-of-way. Not all non-native plants are invasive. In fact, a large number of our agricultural crops and ornamental plants are non-native (exotic) in origin.
Invasive plant populations can grow, adapt, multiply, and spread to unmanageable levels, often overwhelming entire landscapes. Invasive plants significantly reduce plant diversity (and ecosystem biodiversity) and can be a severe threat to stability and sustainability of our natural systems. Management of invasive, nonnative plant species is difficult and complex. It is estimated that 100 million acres in the United States are already impacted by invasive plant species, requiring costly management. Preventing further spread of invasive plants and recapturing impacted sites is a monumental task that depends on public awareness, support, and participation.
Spotlight: English Ivy Hedera helix (photo from Missouri Botanical Garden)
Hedera helix is native to Europe, western Asian and northern Africa. It landed here in North America as a landscape plant and has escaped from those settings into our natural areas…becoming prominent on the invasive list.
English Ivy is an evergreen woody vine and can grow up to 90 feet. The vine will climb or form dense ground cover. The leaves are alternate and are heart-shape d with pointed lobes in young plants and broadly lanceolate in mature plants. The light gray vine may reach a thickness of 10 inches in diameter and may be bumpy and gnarly. Small greenish-yellow flowers appear in June to October. Clusters of round drupes ripen to dark blue from October to May.
My Backyard measures for scorecard:
- Help stop the spread of invasive exotic plants by removing them from your yard and slowly replacing with natives. Credit = 3 inches
- Research plants prior to purchase to ensure you are not planting invasives. Credit = 2 inches