IMG_4701The other day, when hiking in the woods behind our house, we came to an area of the forest we didn’t remember visiting ever before. 

The sight before us was breathtaking:  amidst the flaming reds and oranges of autumn there was a virtual sea of delicate pink, pale green, and blush-colored leaves, as wide and deep as the eye could see.  It reminded me so very much of cherry blossoms in the spring, and all I could think was how absolutely gorgeous it was!

At the same time, I knew better.  All this blushing beauty that we didn’t remember having seen before?  We probably hadn’t.  This side of the mountain was overrun by burning bush, a species so aggressive and invasive that several states have forbidden people from buying/planting it.

Once upon a time, I, too, thought “What’s the big deal?”

Then, I wrote an article on invasive plant species that changed the way I thought about the issue.

The problem with invasive plants is that for the most part, they are non-native.  Many of them were intentionally brought to this country from abroad because of their beauty in our gardens, and their ability to withstand the things our own native plants could not, be it disease, insects, or pests such as rabbits, woodchucks, or deer.

Therein lies the problem.  Nothing here will eat these plants, allowing them to grow unchecked, and choke out the native species that feed our local fauna.  Local fauna, with no native flora to eat, come to our gardens for forage.  We run to garden centers to buy more deer-proof plants.

It still doesn’t seem like that big a deal, does it?  Well, according to usna.usda.gov,

“In the worst cases, invasive plants like mile-a-minute, purple loosestrife, and kudzu ruthlessly choke out other plant life.  This puts extreme pressure on native plants and animals, and threatened species may succumb to this pressure.  Ultimately, invasive plants alter habitats and reduce biodiversity.”

Scary, isn’t it?  I think back to that sea of blushing foliage on the other side of the mountain and shudder to think that particular beauty is a beast, and it’s right outside my back door.

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