Planting our favorite flowers, bushes and trees in our yards is one of the joys of home ownership. Privet forms a thick privacy hedge. Russian and autumn olives make showy windbreaks. Honeysuckle scents the air and attracts butterflies and birds.
All are common landscaping choices by homeowners, yet all are invasive species as identified by the Grand Traverse Regional Invasive Species Network, also known as ISN.
A plant is considered invasive when its growing habits alter the natural landscape and contribute to the destruction of natural ecosystems. The network includes several agencies working in multiple counties to eradicate non-native and invasive trees, shrubs, vines and plants.
If you are a hiker, bird watcher, fisherman, hunter, mushroom gatherer or waterfront owner – or make your living catering to them – your enjoyment and livelihood can be cut short by invasive species which threaten the environmental and economic well-being of a region.
Employees of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore organize volunteers to pull garlic mustard and baby’s breath on park lands. Staffers at the Grand Traverse Conservation District, Leelanau Conservancy and Leelanau Conservation District, directing volunteers, rid meadows and wetlands of invasive species such as black locust trees, purple loosestrife, bamboo and others.
The network’s “Top 20 Least Wanted” species include many time-honored favorites, including dame’s rocket, Japanese barberry, oriental bittersweet and buckthorns. Become acquainted with the list and other threatening species, and learn to love and to plant Michigan native species which restore balance to our state’s plant and animal kingdoms. Visit www.natureiscalling.org to view the list.