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Why Invasive Plants Pose a Threat to Minnesota’s Natural Environment

As a Minnesota landscaping company specializing in restoring native prairies and other native plant ecosystems, one of the challenges we face is eradication of invasive plant species. Before we can start on a native plant installation project, often the first thing we have to do is get rid of invasive plants such as buckthorn.

Just what qualifies as an invasive species? According to the USDA, it is any plant that is not native to the area (or ecosystem) in question, and if introduced can cause harm to the environment, the local economy, or human health.

Not counting aquatic plants such as Eurasian milfoil, invasive plant species in Minnesota include a long list, many of which you may be familiar with and recognize as weeds. Others include ornamental trees and shrubs that are often used for landscaping. But just because a plant is attractive doesn’t make it a good thing to have in an area it’s not native to.

Norway maple beginning to change colors in fall
The majestic Norway maple – found all over Minnesota. Would you be surprised to learn it is an invasive species and threatens our local ecosystems?

On the DNR list of invasive plant species, in addition to buckthorn, are such things as creeping Charlie, white and yellow clovers, certain honeysuckles, and even the Norway maple. (Click here for the DNR’s full list.)

Some of these plants – such as poison hemlock, Grecian foxglove and giant hogweed – are potentially toxic to humans and livestock.

The threat of invasive plants is listed by some experts as the leading cause in the disappearance of native plants and animal species. By their very presence they threaten entire ecosystems. Invasive plant species – because they have no natural ‘check’ in the area where they’re introduced – spread rapidly and most often will dominate the area. They crowd out the native plants that local wildlife depend on for both food and protective cover.

But the good news is that with proper landscape management and sustained maintenance, a healthy ecosystem can be restored with the introduction of native plant species, including grasses, wildflowers, and native trees and shrubs. If you’re concerned about invasive plant species on your property, please contact us. We’ll be happy to identify the threats and suggest a plan to restore your land to a more natural state. Call us today at 1-800-837-5986 .

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