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Nurseries: Stop Selling Invasives

Japanese knotweed has no pests and diseases that control it. It is a problem throughout Europe and most of North America and its vigorous growth excludes almost all native species and depletes insect numbers.

Environmental groups hope to slow the spread of decorative but invasive plants by persuading nurseries to stop selling them and instead promote native species.

Big-box retailer Meijer Inc. announced in March it is removing two invasive trees--Norway maple and Lombardy poplar--from its stores in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky. In California, a partnership of nursery owners and environmental leaders is working on a campaign called “Plant Right” that will help find native plants suited for their regions.

Only a small percentage of plants sold in nurseries are nonnative troublemakers that crowd out other plants and rob animals of their food sources. Some, like Norway maples and Japanese barberry, are big sellers.

Others are not a problem in most places, such as baby’s breath. Few gardeners know that it is taking over from the natural grasses that help stabilize sand dunes along Lake Michigan.

A few states, including Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, have banned the sale of dozens of invasive plants. New Hampshire’s ban on Norway maples, Japanese barberry and burning bush took effect this year.

Over the last three years, nursery owners, landscape architects and environmental leaders in California have developed a list of about 20 invasive plants that they want to stop. The federal government spent $631 million dealing with invasive plants and animals in 2000, according to a U.S. General Accounting Office report. California, Florida and Hawaii have big problems with the invaders. Florida spent $54 million in 1999 on trying to control nonnative plants, the GAO report said.

Source: Associated Press

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May 26, 2019, 3:03 pm PDT

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