Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Those Sneaky Invasive Plants

We all fall victim to it - beautiful plants that take over our gardens. They look so pretty in the nursery's and garden centers. And we are thrilled when they thrive and multiply during the first year. Then, without warning, these plants invade every inch of our yard. Ok, I'm being dramatic.

Did you think lamnium was a wonderful ground cover? What about day lily's? That little beauty can suddenly turn into a monster that should be in , "The Little Shop of Horrors."

A friend called me yesterday asking about an unusual plant in their yard. What could it be? A rare species? They described it as 4-5 feet tall with reddish stalks and purple flowers that appeared in their wooded area with dappled sunlight. Each year it got bigger. They couldn't describe the leaves which limits identification.

After many questions, I thought it might be giant hog weed. Giant hog weed is an invasive species from Asia. It causes blister-like burns on the skin and can cause blindness. It's so dangerous that the DNR will send people in white Tyvek jumpsuits out to erradicate the plant. After searching images on-line, my friend said this wasn't their plant.

Perhaps it was the Castor Bean plant, a self-propagating plant with deadly seeds that should not be grown in the home garden. Turns out, it wasn't this plant either.

My friends finally said it had ruffled leaves like spinach. I'm thinking they have rhubarb. Can't be certain until I actually look at the plant.

My point in this story is that even though a plant looks pretty, it can sometimes do more harm than good. Research your plants before buying and investigate all unusal species that "appear" in your landscape.

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