Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Warning! Warning!

I have just read the article in "Adirondack Life" about the invasives that are moving their way into our neck of the woods, and was devastated to find that some of the plants I have intentionally put into my gardens at home are invasive!!!

Now, I take pride in keeping up-to-date on the invasives problem, but I was horrified to discover that some of the plants that I love, and/or thought were native, have turned out to be persona non grata.

>sigh< TEASEL (Dipsacus sylvestris) - a bad character (and I thought it was native - I have so many great childhood memories of this plant). In some parts of the country it is naturalized, but really it is only considered acceptable in areas of shortgrass prairie. That doesn't include us. It produces prolific seeds and will spread and take over. No wildlife benefits. If you have it in your garden (like I do, because I planted it to relive childhood memories), then you need to get rid of it before it goes to seed!!!

INDIAN CUP PLANT (Silphium perfoliatum) - Highly invasive (although native to the Midwest)! Apparently up in the Keene area it is moving into and along riparian corridors. And here I was trying to grow it from seeds this year (they didn't grow) because I had one plant in the garden and loved it so much I wanted more. My specimen is wonderful this year - pushing eight feet tall, cupped leaves filled with water, providing drinks and baths for the birds, and the buds are ready to bloom. Well - now I have to go rip it out. If you have it planted on your property, get rid of it before it goes to seed.

JAPANESE BARBERRY (Berberis thunbergii) - I've heard tales of how it is invasive down below, but I thought we were safe here, and it was great to plant in areas where deer are because they won't eat it. Well, apparently it is starting to spread up here, too. Birds are spreading the berries. Sprouts are appearing in the understory of woods. I have two at home...after this weekend I will have none. (Or maybe next weekend...this weekend is pretty much booked already.)

What to do with them once you pull them up: I asked Hilary Oles, director at the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program (APIPP), what I should do with them once they are ripped out of the ground, and she suggested the best thing is to take them to a burn site. Do not compost.

What about the invasive honeysuckle (Lonicera x bella, Lonicera tartarica, Lonicera morrowii)? I have these in my yard as well, and I've been planning for several years to get rid of them. The best method? According to Steve at APIPP I should cut them to the ground before the berries fully ripen (I still have time), and then paint the cross-section of stump (and suckers) with Round-up, straight from the bottle, undiluted. Use a 1" paint brush. If painted with the herbicide (as opposed to spraying), the ground is safe for replanting with native berry-producing shrubs (such as nannyberry and dogwood). And just in case you are thinking "but the birds love the berries," remember this: the non-native honeysuckles do not provide the nutrients that native ones do. Watch them - the birds will not eat the non-native berries until there is nothing else left as an option. Replace these shrubs with natives instead!!!

So, get out there, folks! Learn your invasives and start patrolling for them. I know that there are those out there who love their plants and will be reluctant to kill them, but it must be done. Our native vegetation (and the wildlife that depends on it) must be protected. Good luck!


  1. Oh my,... I liked my honeysuckle bushes,..but I did wonder why it's mid-August and the berries are all STILL there! Now I know. I had done a post a couple weeks ago on my blog about Purple Loosestrife choking out our native cattails. it's good to spread the word. Thank you!

  2. Cedar - I know what you mean about the honeysuckle. I felt the same way about my teasels and the Indian Cup plant. Still, last night I yanked up all the teaselsl, dug up one of the barberries, and hacked down the cup plant. I couldn't dig up the latter, so I will have to paint it with Roundup, too. The honeysuckles will be next...after I get some replacement shrubs.

    If you like the honeysuckles for their bright red berries, you can try replacing them with chokeberries or chokecherries. They also have bright red berries, are native, and the wildlife love them.

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