Have you ever thought of plants as bullies?
That idea never crossed my mind.
Until… I heard it suggested by our instructor, Rob Emanuel, at a Tualatin River Watershed Weed Watcher workshop.
The bullies he referred to are invasive plants.
Why are they a problem?
Put simply… invasives threaten the ability of native ecosystems to thrive.
This collection of plants displayed at the workshop, along with some others, are the potential future champions of our wooded and riparian areas.
If allowed to go unchecked, they have the ability to stomp out native plants, and bring robust ecosystems to their knees.
“Invasive species threaten the stability of native plant and animal communities. They get in the way of native plants that do a better job:
- keeping soil in place and out of rivers,
- soaking up excess nutrients from fertilizers,
- providing shade to keep water temperatures cool for fish,
- providing somewhere for native animals to live, and
- providing food sources year round for pollinators and native animals.
Additionally, these invasive species and weeds could be hazardous to human health, poisonous to livestock, and reduce the aesthetic and recreation value of public lands.” Tualatin Soil and Water Conservation District
Although the plants sitting on the table look rather innocuous… the slides Rob shared, coupled with his first-hand accounts of the “bully-power” behind the targeted species, were more than enough to convince those attending the Weed Watcher workshop that elimination of these plant threats is an important task.
One very scary plant-bully example: Giant Hogweed
These photos of Giant Hogweed, taken by Tualatin Riverkeeper Advocacy and Communications Manager, Brian Wegener, illustrate one of the meanest bullies. Originally a native to the Caucasus Mountains and southwest Asia, it was introduced to the United States as an ornamental plant. Giant Hogweed jumped the classification of ornamental and is classified as a Class A weed- targeted for eradication or containment.
Not only does this plant choke out beneficial native plants- it is HIGHLY toxic. I highlight Giant Hogweed because the harm photosensitive sap from the plant can cause if humans come in contact with it: devastating skin lesions and burns; sap-related blindness. Parents are especially advised to take note of this plant’s description because children could be attracted to the Giant Hogweed’s size and flower.
This is a not a plant to play with. Click to link to more detailed Giant Hogweed information:
How to stand up to plant-bullies-
Empower yourself by attending a Weed Watcher Workshop in your area. Workshops like this one are offered in most states, South Africa, and Australia. Google- “Weed Watchers” with your location to find a workshop near you. Learn who the “plant-bullies” are in your ecoregion or watershed, and how to become part of a Rapid Response and Early Detection team. The goal is to stop these botanic bullies before they have a chance to take root and establish permanent residence.
If you live in my watershed- the Tualatin River- two more workshops are offered this spring:
May 21- Aloha High School
May 27- Forest Grove Community Auditorium