WHAT IS AN INVASIVE PLANT?
Some plant species grow aggressively, spreading and displacing other desirable plants. These are typically plants that aren’t native to the area, and therefore they will invade and begin to thrive in an ecosystem without natural controls. Soon, they multiply to the extent that they become difficult to control, escaping cultivation and dominating the landscape. Infestations from invasive plant species can be expensive to control and are also destructive to the immediate environment. Most of these invasive species can release allelochemical compounds, which are toxic to the growth of native species.
Some examples of invasive species in Michigan include:
- Autumn Olive, a deciduous shrub that grows about 20 feet high with bright green leaves. The yellow flowers possess a strong fragrance.
- Giant Knotweed, which looks like a bamboo with long spiky flowers.
- Butterbur, a flowering plant with round to heart-shaped leaves.
REASON FOR SUCCESSFUL PLANT INVASION AND DOMINATION
It is believed that one reason why invasive plants are successful in their domination of an environment is due to the fact that the insects and diseases that plague them in their native environment are non-exist (or exits in reduced quantities) in the new environment they find themselves.
Invasive plants also possess an extensive root system that makes it harder to deal with them easily from the surface. These roots, which are known as rhizomes, can spread so widely that total eradication becomes a tough exercise.
Invasive plants are also very competitive and can thrive in almost any condition. Once they successfully dominate an environment, they choke out their competition and create a space that hinders the growth of other plant species.
Other factors that facilitate domination are speed of growth, rapid reproduction and adaptability.
DEALING WITH INVASIVE PLANTS
As has been established, one major characteristic of invasive plants is their undesirability. They have the potential to harm natural and agricultural resources, and are sometimes known to harbor some dangerous animal species. Some other invasive species such as the Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima), a fast-growing deciduous tree that reaches about 70 feet, is known to produce an unpleasant odor like rotten peanut butter. These species need to be dealt with if home owners want to enjoy their yards.
The best way to tackle invasive species is to prevent their growth in the first place. Once they are prevented from gaining entrance, their growth and domination can be hindered. These invasive plants can be very subtle with their invasion, and it is quite hard to identify their arrival. These guidelines can help homeowners prevent an introduction of invasive species into the environment:
- Verify that the plant species you are introducing into your garden are not invasive. Replace invasive species as soon as possible.
- Clean off boots to get rid of seeds collected while hiking.
- Pay close attention to pets and what they bring into your yard. Seeds can stick to their fur and hair and be introduced into your garden.
- Educate others in the neighborhood about the threat posed by this invasion.
In dealing with invasive plants as a home owner, there are a variety of methods that can be employed. These methods include the following:
- Chemical Control Method: Involves the use of herbicides such as glyphospate and triclopyr. But some of these are known to cause some form of long- and short-term health and environmental problems. They can also affect the growth of nearby non-target plants.
- Cultural Control Method: This method involves planting, irrigating and fertilizing the land to encourage a healthy environment that can resist the growth of invasive plants. But some stubborn invasive plants can still grow, even after the application of this method, although their domination will not be as rapid.
- Biological Control Method: In this method, agents that are natural enemies of the invasive plants are introduced. In standard procedure, before any of those insects are introduced, they are thoroughly tested to ensure that they will not attack any of the other plants.
- Manual/Biological Method: This provides the most effective method of getting rid of invasive plants. Hand pulling and digging are some activities employed in this method. The method is most suitable for plants with shallow roots. It is not an effective way to deal with invasive plants that reproduce by roots or rhizome.
ROOTS AND STUMPS OF INVASIVE PLANTS
Most invasive plants undergo vegetative reproduction, which means that new plants can easily be produced from plant parts and not necessarily from seeds or spores. Structures in plants that facilitate such a growth are rhizomes and stolons, which are basically interconnected plant stems.
Invasive plants produce dense localized infestations and can disperse faster if their vegetative structures are carried to other locations. This kind of root structure makes it harder to manage invasive plants because new plants can sprout from root fragments in the soil. Because of this, it is necessary that invasive plants are dealt with to their roots and stumps for total eradication.
Due to the complex nature and structure of most invasive plants, it is hard for the average homeowner to get rid of them. They will always find a way to come back.
Handing the job over to professionals is the best option. If it’s an invasive tree you need removed in the Mid-Michigan area, call the Aerial Tree Service team for stump and root removal. We can also give you advice on how to keep the immediate environment free from the re-growth of these invasive species. Don’t spend weeks trying out different control methods when there are already people who know the one perfect control method for each species – call us today!