The Associated Press
TOLEDO — Bamboo-like plants that grow taller than adults have choked out native plants in a marsh that once teemed with life along Lake Erie.
Wild flowers have disappeared. Migrating birds have gone elsewhere.
The parkland has changed so much that Dana Bollin, the naturalist at Maumee Bay State Park, no longer leads tours along its boardwalk. “I hate to spend an hour talking about invasive plants,” she said.
In Michigan, exotic plant species are destroying or threatening habitats along sand dunes. In Florida, swamps are a target. Environmental groups hope to slow the spread by persuading nurseries to stop selling invasive plants and promote native species.
In California, a partnership of nursery owners and environmental leaders is working on a campaign called “Plant Right” that will roll out early next year and give gardeners brochures to help them find native plants suited for their regions.
Florida’s highway department announced last fall it will stop planting invasive plants along its roads.
Big-box retailer Meijer Inc. announced in March it is removing two invasive trees — Norway maple and Lombardy poplar — from stores in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky.
Only a small percentage of plants sold in nurseries are troublemakers that crowd out other plants and rob animals of food sources. But environmental groups say these plants can end up in the hands of gardeners who only later find out how quickly they can take over.
Often, there’s little information about invasives at nurseries. Adding to the confusion is that plants that are fine in one state can cause trouble in another. That’s why many groups fighting against invasive plants are encouraging nurseries to give customers more information about what plants are best.
They hope consumers will embrace native plants as they have home-grown organic vegetables.
In most states, though, legislation stopping the sales of invasive plants is a tough sell. Nursery owners oppose it. And even environmental groups disagree on what plants should be included.
These nonnative plants are the worst of the worst in Ohio and the most difficult to control.
Buckthorn, European or common
Common reed grass
Honeysuckle — amur, Japanese, Morrow, Tatarian