The goutweed is coming. The goutweed is coming.
Fearing an invasion of non-native plant species in the province’s north, the Lake Superior Invasive Species Outreach organization is joining forces with several organizations to play botanic Paul Reveres, warning the public of the dangers associated with filling gardens with plants not naturally found in Northwestern Ontario.
LSISO co-ordinator Hailey Powell was on hand Tuesday to help launch the Grow Me Instead Guide, a comprehensive list of invasive plants that subsequently identifies acceptable replacements to many of the unwanted species that have taken hold when introduced in other ecosystems.
“It’s a great resource for the public and nurseries to have,” Powell said.
“It promotes the use of native plants versus their invasive or non-native alternatives. So it’s going to help protect our natural areas.”
The danger with many invasive species is they tend to arrive inauspiciously, but with few natural predators. Left unchecked they can quickly choke out other species, the trickle-down effect potentially harming animals that depend on certain plants for food.
Alhough purple loosestrife is the most well-known invasive plant, it’s by no means the only one, Powell said.
Goutweed, native to Europe and Asia, is a groundcover that tolerates all manner of soil conditions, can live in shady areas and very competitive with other plants. The pamphlet recommends wild strawberry as an alternative.
Ox-eye daisy may be pretty, but it can quickly infest pastures, meadows, roadsides and gardens. The pamphlet suggests lance-leaved coreopsis, black-eyed Susans or pale purple coneflowers as replacements.
“One of the main problems is (invasive species) look beautiful, so a lot of people aren’t aware of the threat they pose. Invasive species, they essentially take over and out-compete our local vegetation, so our natural plants end up suffering as a result of that,” she said.
“We’ll end up losing our native diversity of plants and our ecosystems will suffer as a result.”
Bob Lambe, who heads the invasive species centre, said a big part of prevention of the introduction of invasive species is to inform the public of the perils of allowing it to happen.
“This program aims to get at that directly by educating them that it is really important to use domestic plants as opposed to invasive plants,” he said.
“In some cases people actually trade invasive plants and not even know they’re invasive. It’s just a matter of people not being aware of the difference between domestic and invasive plants.”
The guide will be distributed at local nurseries. Local gardeners can also call the invading species hotline at 1-800-563-7711 for clarification or visit one of two websites, either www.invadingspecies.com or www.ontarioinvasiveplants.com.
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