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Examiner
  • Lynn Youngblood: Avoid noxious, exotic plant species

  • Many people have no idea how important it is to be familiar with the plants to place in their yards and gardens. While many are beautiful and so tempting, some are potentially devastating to nearby woodlands, fields or streams.

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  • Correction: This column on May 28 had a recipe for hummingbird nectar. The proportion of water to sugar was wrong. Bring to a boil a mixture that is one part sugar to four parts water. Once it boils and all of the sugar has dissolved, let it cool completely.
     
    Many people have no idea how important it is to be familiar with the plants to place in their yards and gardens. While many are beautiful and so tempting, some are potentially devastating to nearby woodlands, fields or streams.
    Invasive species typically travel by seed – often via birds – or by root. Some seeds can also spread by catching on animal fur. Some produce so many seeds they just simply have to fall below the seed head and grow huge patches.
    Homeowners are not the only culprits. The Missouri Department of Conservation planted multi-flora rose and autumn olive decades ago, thinking they would provide good wildlife food and habitat. It wasn’t until years later that they discovered that both of these plants were fast becoming invasive all over the state. The Missouri Department of Transportation planted crown vetch along steep highways, ramps and other places for erosion control. Again, this plant quickly showed its invasive nature and is banned from all use.
    Alan Branhagen, director of horticulture at Powell Gardens, detailed plants that should be used with care. His list is coded into three categories:
    • No. 1 plants are severe pests, with seeds dispersed far and wide by birds (droppings) or animals (many get transported in a deer’s fur). These should not be planted, and all existing plants should be removed.
    •No. 2 plants are severe pests near where planted, but their seeds do not disperse great distances. These should not be planted near natural lands.
    • No. 3 plants are severe pests in certain parts of the Midwest and should be monitored for invasiveness. Use discouraged near nature preserves.
    The list is broad, and the complete list is at www.powellgardens.org/document.doc?id=19. Some of the surprises:
    • Woody plants: No. 2 Amur maple; No. 3 Norway maple; No. 2 Tree-of-Heaven; No. 3 Japanese Barberry (shrub); No. 1 Oriental bittersweet, awoody vine) known as the kudzu of the north (alternate: American bittersweet); No. 2 sweet autumn clematis; No. 2 burning bush; No. 1 winterberry euonymus; No. 2/No. 3 goldenrain tree; No. 1 Japanese honeysuckle; No. 1 Amur honeysuckle; No. 1 white mulberry; No. 3 privets (in the South, the Chinese privet is a horrific pest to woodlands, and it’s is supposedly hardy only to zone 7, but there are several big shrubs of its variegated cultivar growing in the Kansas City area); No. 2 Boston ivy; No. 1 Bradford pear and Callery pear, including all cultivars – Bradford, Aristocrat, Autumn Blaze, Chanticleer and others; No. 1 multiflora rose (large shrub); and No. 3 Viburnums Viburnum spp.
    Page 2 of 2 - • Other plants, all Nos. 3: hardy mimosa; butterflybush; purple beautyberry; rose-of-Sharon; and Pyracantha species and hybrids.
    • Semi-woody plants: No. 1 Sericea.
    • Herbaceous plants, many of which have become the dominant flora in most landscapes: No. 1 nodding thistle (there are numerous native thistles that are not invasive); No. 1 bull thistle; No. 2 crown vetch; No. 1 Greek foxglove; No. 1 teasels; No. 1 tall fescue; No. 2 yellow flag iris; perennial sweet pea; No. 2 birdsfoot trefoil; purple loosestrife; and No. 3 “Pampas” grass.
    Lynn Youngblood can be reached at TheGreenSpace@sbcglobal.net.
     
     
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