An invasive plant takes over a garden, a habitat or an ecosystem in several ways. Some of these plants are lovely but threatening. Others are ugly and also dangerous. They can be herbaceous plants, grasses, shrubs, trees, vines, ground covers or aquatics. They need to be watched, controlled or removed.
These strong, healthy plants have a variety of characteristics. They grow rapidly and establish themselves in many different habitats. They are indifferent to changes in climatic conditions. Soil and growing conditions have little effect on them. Their natural enemies are unable to control them. They have longer flowering and fruiting cycles. The plant’s seeds have short dormancies and germinate easily, and the seeds are produced in vast quantities. The seeds are scattered extensively by birds or the wind. The plants possess the ability to reproduce with bulbs, rhizomes or suckers—underground shoots or roots.
Because of these characteristics, invasive plants destroy agricultural plants and soil, and they can threaten the economy. Many vulnerable and vanishing species are lost because of invasive plants. Animal habitats are imperiled because their food supply is compromised, or the environment itself jeopardized, i.e. oxygen levels in rivers, lakes and streams.
Invasive species can be indigenous or nonnative to an area. Species that inhabited North America before European explorers arrived are considered native. They become invasive when they threaten the existence of other plants in the habitat. Sometimes this occurs when plants are naturalized from another part of the country. While most alien species aren’t intrusive, invasive plants usually are aliens. They’re introduced for a specific reason or accidentally by travelers.
Chicago gardeners, protect your property by keeping it weed free and by keeping any plant from taking over your garden.
Live long and well—garden.
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