National Invasive Species Awareness

Dateline: February 27, 2015*

It is National Invasive Species Awareness Week 2015.  Somehow the memo that came to my neck of the woods didn’t highlight the “AWARENESS” keyword in the promotional name.  As a result, it seems the invasive species around here thought it was an invitation to move in and celebrate…like Mardi Gras.  HARUMMPH!!!!

Early in the week the Cuban Treefrogs (Osteopilus septentrionalis) (CTFs) reared their ugly (albeit cute) heads.  In all of 2014 I did not photograph a single native treefrog whereas in past years I had dozens.  The slimy CTFs have steadfastly gained the competitive edge crowding out natives. Without a hard freeze in my area for the 2014/15 winter, I grieve that 2015 will again be without our colorful and important native amphibians.

cubantreefrogfeb2015
Then, Wednesday, while out venturing around the pond area I spied an unknown dainty vine, barely noticeable beneath some shrubs that are used as a screen along the fence line.

ARRRRGGGGGGGGGKKKKKKKKKKKK!  I come to learn that it is Old World Climbing Fern (Lygodium microphyllum), a MAJOR invasive vine here in Florida.  Add a new invasive species to those I have had to control in past years and monitor always.

Old World Climbing Fern (Lygodium microphyllum)
Old World Climbing Fern (Lygodium microphyllum)

So, I guess I’ll hang on the thread of hope that the point of their arrival was to help make others aware of their ugly existence.  That’s the way to learn and educate.

climbingfernfeb2015b
When it comes to invasive species, you can’t rely on your own opinions on whether or not something is “invasive”.  You have to consider the BIG PICTURE!  Certain species that are easily controlled in a home landscape may well be a violent offender in the wild.  That’s why it is so important to be AWARE of what is INVASIVE in the big scheme of things, not just in your own backyard.

It is imperative to consider the greater good when choosing what to incorporate in our own gardens.  Time to take off the blinders and face the fact that sometimes an aesthetically pleasing and loved plant in our own place, can be a major headache to biodiversity in general. Often these plants conjure up memories of youth, perhaps in a different area of the country where they don’t upset natural ecosystems.

climbingfernfeb2015d
What is invasive in Florida may well be very tame in New York and vice versa.  Prior to choosing a plant based on beauty alone, research and find out if that pleasant little flower is worth it.  Is it possible that it might wind up costing millions of taxpayer dollars to eradicate?  What happens when a seed gets eaten by a bird and promptly deposited into a natural area.  Will it threaten the ecosystem and those that rely on it to survive?

Get out of the mindset of your own backyard and become open minded to what researchers in your local area are documenting as problematic. Embrace being informed and educated, rather than selfish about your own space.  It’s hard, I know, but sometimes the high road is a bit steeper, but the right way to go.

Find the worst invasive species offenders to your locale by looking at the “Browse by State Lists” section at http://www.invasive.org/species.cfm

After you determine what is invasive, then take some time to learn methods suggested to control the problem.  This pdf handout on Climbing Fern in Florida is just one of a multitude of great resources from University Extension Services which provides information for homeowners.  I have the advantage in catching it early and in a small state.  I was able to remove the single vine by the roots. Now I flagged the spot to keep a close eye for any more that may have staked claim.

Pretty isn’t very pretty if it raises it’s ugliness to adversely affect another part of the population.  Know your region, share your knowledge…TAKE A STAND!

You need to get beyond the beauty of a flower and realize the effect on the environment as a whole Caesarweed (Urena lobata) Non-native Invasive in Florida
You need to get beyond the beauty of a flower and realize the effect on the environment as a whole Caesarweed (Urena lobata) Non-native Invasive in Florida

*This is tale was originally published by Loret T. Setters on February 27, 2015 at the defunct national blog beautifulwildlifegarden[dot]com. Click the date to view reader comments.

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