Posts Tagged: Invasive
California Invasive Species Action Week – Let’s work together to be better, do better, and grow better.
Words like 'invasive plants' or 'weeds' often have a negative connotation for a good reason. Both words describe plants growing where they are not wanted or welcome. Plants that have a propensity to spread quickly result in habitat loss for native plants, insects, birds, and other animals. This is incredibly destructive to our natural environment and the landscape that Californians love to call our own.
Fast spreading invasive plants can quickly and dramatically change a plant community from a diverse one to a monoculture. When these plant communities shift, wildlife loses food, water and shelter resources and are forced to move out or perish.
Unfortunately, this description is not an over-dramatization. As Californians, we must communicate frankly about the impact of invasive plants in our environment. This is an important issue that can easily grow out of control. One of the biggest challenges with invasive plants is that they oftentimes have desirable features, like beautiful flowers or a spreading habit that quickly covers a barren patch in a home landscape.
Well-intentioned people have sold, purchased, propagated, and harvested plants that are known to be invasive. When done so knowingly, the gardener may use the excuse that they will watch the plant and not let it get out of control. Unfortunately, there is no way to monitor a plant that is distributed by wind, birds and other sources. It may be possible to monitor that your plant doesn't ‘escape' to the neighbor's garden but what about the seeds that blew off in the wind and established on a hillside two miles away?
Paying attention to signage and programs that identify invasive plants is an important part of caring for our environment. When questions about weeds and invasive plants arise, the UC Master Gardener Program is available locally to support good decisions and help us all be stewards of a healthy California.
Trained and certified volunteers utilize the vast network of information and expertise of the University of California to support gardeners and concerned citizens. You can reach your local county program online at mg.ucanr.edu/FindUs/.
It's Invasive Species Action Week – let's work together to be better, do better, and grow better.
California Invasive Plant Resources:
- California Department Fish and Wildlife
- Weed Research & Information Center (UC ANR)
- UC Integrated Pest Managment
Spend your lunch learning about invasive species. Brought to you by UC Agriculture and Natural Resource and the California Invasive Plant Council, come hear from the experts about emerging tree pests, aquatic invasive species, and invasive weeds and fire.
- Shot hole borers and other threats to California's trees (June 5, 12:10 - 1pm)
- Quagga mussels, nutria and other threats to California's water bodies (June 6, 12:10 - 1pm)
- Invasive plants and fire in California (June 7, 12:10 - 1pm)
Join from a PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone or Android device:
Please click this URL to join. https://ucanr.zoom.us/j/401190822
Or join by phone:
Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
US: +1 (646) 558-8656 or +1 (669)900-6833
Webinar ID: 401 190 822
I saw Elvis today.
Sustainable Conservation's San Francisco headquarters these days. More than a titan among musical icons “The King” has become a muse to the PlantRight team, especially this National Invasive Species Awareness Week . We love Elvis' “A Little Less Conversation” because it might as well be our theme song for actionable awareness. We can't guarantee you'll be dancing along by the end of this article, but we do guarantee providing you with a few awareness-raising resources, a deeper understanding of what's holding back the hold-outs from taking positive action, and most importantly what we can do about it.
PlantRight defines “actionable awareness” as what happens when individuals and businesses are made aware of an opportunity to be part of the solution to California's costly (economically and environmentally) invasive garden plant problem, and make a conscious decision to act. Invasive plants (despite the fact that many are deceptively beautiful and drought resistant) outcompete native plants, alter soil chemistry, increase wildfire risk, clog our waterways and can severely compromise agricultural yields and real estate value. If that weren't enough, invasive species are the second greatest threat to biodiversity after human development.
Awareness of these facts alone will not fix any of these issues; however, add action to the mix and you have a proven formula for problem solving. PlantRight's idea of problem solving is collaborating with the industry to voluntarily phase invasive plants out of the supply chain and replace them with high-quality (i.e. non-invasive) plants. Voila! Together we prevent new invasive garden plants from wreaking havoc on our wild lands and taxpayer wallets.
The fact that 50% of California's invasive plants are of horticultural origin (Bell et al. 2007) is a source of both conversation and dismay. Yet from PlantRight's perspective this 50% is a great source of optimism because it's proof of a huge opportunity the nursery industry can play in preventing future invasive plant introductions. In past decades ornamental plant breeders and growers had little or no ability to predict a plant's invasive risk in a given region, and most invasions were well-intentioned accidents. Lucky for us we finally have science-based plant risk evaluation tools to prevent new invasive plant introductions. Not so lucky for us is that popular plants travel, and a delightful Dr. Jekyll plant in one region, may become a hideous Mr. Hyde plant and landscape transformer in a different region. It's about the right plant in the right place, but just where to begin, if we're to turn this talk into actionable awareness?
In the beginning there was lots of conversation and lots of listening sessions that Sustainable Conservation conducted with a diverse group of nursery industry stakeholders, from large ornamental growers, retail nurseries, plant scientists, trade associations and government agencies. University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) has been part of this group from the start, providing academic expertise on weeds and calculating their risk. This group's official moniker is “California Horticultural Invasive Prevention,” but we prefer Cal-HIP.
With a couple years of listening and learning under our belts, and funding from Sustainable Conservation, the PlantRight program was ready for action: action engaging the nursery industry in voluntarily phasing our invasive ornamental plants and promoting, in their place, non-invasive alternatives.
Our first order of business was to measure the scope of the problem and establish a baseline. Working closely with plant science experts to identify the most problematic invasive ornamental plants, and industry experts to identify non-invasive alternatives, we created our first PlantRight plant list. If you can measure it you can manage it, we like to say - to do this, we rely on an annual Spring Nursery Survey. Each spring, partner with UC Master Gardener volunteers to survey more than 200 nurseries and garden centers around the state, and in the process track the retail market for invasive garden plants in California.
Along with informing PlantRight's program strategy, the annual survey allows us to keep PlantRight's plant list manageable and up to date – we add new invaders and retire those that are largely phased out of the trade. It is our program's calling card, and the starting point for conversations with prospective partners and skeptics, alike. It has earned the enthusiastic support of California Certified Nursery Professionals (CCNPro), SaveOurWater, and more.
A Little Less Fight, a Little More Spark
Buying non-invasive means many things, including protecting native species, being good stewards of our beautiful open spaces and waterways, being fiscally responsible and preventing additional taxpayer dollars going to avoidable invasive plant eradication efforts. Buying non-invasive plants is casting a vote for the kind of world you want to live in.
So, why on earth do people buy invasive plants in the first place? (Hint: One big reason has to do with what happens when you turn off the lights). Yep, people who purchased invasive plants were in the dark – they did not know.
In 2013, we learned that the primary drivers behind consumer purchases of invasive plants are: 1) aesthetics – it looks good; and, 2) there was no information on the plant indicating “invasive.” In other words the majority of invasive plant purchases (by consumers) are impulse purchases and would not have occurred had the plant been properly identified as “invasive.”
, award winning garden writer and host of PBS' “A Growing Passion,” has her own answer to this vexing invasive plant question. “It's about visual influence,” says Sterman. “People tend to buy and plant what they see in their local gardens and landscapes. “ According to Sterman, these include the very people who religiously recycle, buy high-efficiency appliances, and drive electric cars, yet they can't imagine beautiful, drought tolerant plants posing environmental problems. Nassella tenuissima, or Mexican feathergrass, is one such culprit that has been romancing many well-intentioned Californians.
Come On, Come On…Come On, Come On
Ready to channel your inner Elvis and tackle invasive garden plant problems in ways that make economic sense? (Of course you are!) Here are a few resources to empower more action in your community.
- Share this article
- Sign up for the Spring Nursery Survey Webinar and Training
- View our Plant List at PlantRight.org
- Invasive Plant IQ Test
- View our 2016 Invasive Plants Webinar
- Little Less Conversation, Little More Action (Please) - Video
So this National Invasive Species Awareness Week we encourage you to crank up that volume and bust a move with the PlantRight community (blue suede shoes optional), knowing that YOU are driving actionable awareness…this week, this month and in the years ahead.
Thank you, thankyouverymuch.
Find out more about California Invasive Species Action week, species of concern, schedule of events, and what you can do to help prevent invasive species at https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Invasives/Action-Week.
Also, read some of our recnt blog articles on invasive pests and their impacts in urban areas:
- Help Protect California's Citrus from Asian Citrus Psyllid
- Invasive Pests of Concern for California's Urban Farmers
- Bagrada Bug Continues to Spread in California
- Don't Grow Crazy: An Update on California's PlantRight Program
- Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
- Exotic Pests Invade California Landscapes
Once established, invasive species are extremely difficult to eradicate and can cause not only ecological disruption, but economic problems as well. Everyone has a part to play to keep exotic and invasive species from coming into California and spreading throughout the state.
PlantRight is conducting its 6th Annual Spring Nursery Survey! UC Master Gardener volunteers can help PlantRight track the availability of invasive plants by simply visiting local nurseries. Check with your local county program coordinator to find out if your program offers volunteer hours for participation.
Participation in the 2015 Spring Nursery Survey is easy, educational, and fun! Volunteers will:
- View an online training
- Download required survey materials (e.g. survey form & plant ID key)
- Sign up to survey a randomly selected store in their county
- Visit the store and record information about any invasive plants being sold
- Submit information to PlantRight
PlantRight will host two training webinars to reflect different survey periods for Southern California (San Luis Obispo, Kern San Bernardino Counties and south) and Northern California:
Sign up at: www.plantright.org/survey-registration
“2014 saw many common invasive plants decline in availability, yet some are more popular than ever. Help us prevent the next big invasive by making the 2015 survey our most successful yet!” –Chris Crawford, PlantRight Survey Manager
2014 Survey Highlights
Driving this positive change was a large decrease in periwinkle (Vinca major), dropping from 17% in past years to 9% of surveyed stores. However, the number of stores selling the most recently added invasive plants on PlantRight's list (updated in early 2014) increased. Notably, the drought-tolerant emerging invasive Mexican feathergrass (Nassella tenuissima) increased in prevalence from 27% in 2013 to 38% in 2014.
A comprehensive report and simplified fact sheet detailing the results can be found on the Spring Retail Nursery Survey – 2014 Fact Sheet. These results act as PlantRight's guiding light, shaping its strategy and helping it move forward collaboratively with the nursery industry.
2015 New Plant List
After a year-long review, PlantRight is very excited to share its brand new 2015 list of Suggested Alternatives for Invasive Garden Plants. This list identifies the top ten priority invasive plants for sale in California and provides recommendations on beautiful alternatives. Without the help of the UC Master Gardeners and the data collected from the annual spring survey, the new and improved list would not have been possible.
-- For questions, contact Chris Crawford, PlantRight Survey Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (415) 977-0380, ext. 331.