- Author: Betsy Buxton
I was reading an article in my latest issue of YANKEE MAGAZINE about invasive plants in New England. I know that you’re wondering why a Native Californian would be reading a “foreign” magazine like that. Interesting articles, good recipes, and, of course, problems we don’t have in California – except for some of invasive plants! Right off the bat, I didn’t recognize some of the plant names: Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum), Japanese Stilt Grass (Microstegium vimineum), but others were quite familiar. Multiflora Rose (Rosa multiflora), any one, or how about Tree-of-Heaven (Ailanthus altissima). Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) is quite the pest back East and is a pest here – plant one tree and some you can have your own forest! Norway Maple (Acer platanoides) doesn’t have many enthusiasts anywhere and how about Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)?
Why are these plants considered as pests; the answer is very simple: all of these are plants which are not fussy about soil, location or water needs. They would grow in concrete as my mother used to say. They crowd out the native plants and trees which have their own niches in the eco-system and thus eliminate the variety in the landscape.
“They” say that a “weed is a plant which is growing where it’s not wanted”, but again “what is a weed is in the eye of the beholder”. I find it rather pathetic that the Porcelainberry (Ampelposis brevipeduncluata) that I baby and carefully nurture in a pot in my front yard is considered to a rampant, out-of-control monster in New England. I wonder if somebody back there would trade me a Cotoneaster (a real pest out West) for a Mile-a-minute Weed (Persicara perfoliata or Polyonum perfoliatum) – I’d like to see if their Knotweed is faster than ours!