Adirondack invasives

A monarch butterfly feeds off the nectar from goldenrod. (Provided photo — Diane Chase)

There always seem to be strange weeds popping up in my garden. Since I prefer the weeds and wildflowers (Joe-pye weed, milkweed, bunchberry and wild wintergreen) over other plants, I leave the plants alone. I transplant wildflowers from the center of our yard into flower beds or alongside our house, fences and roadside. I’m also fond of some non-native plants such as peonies and daffodils.

Since not all non-native plants are invasive, it’s crucial to find out what plants are causing harm to the environment and make sure I’m not contributing to the problem. I’ve already been battling some existing nuisance plants that came with the property. I don’t need to add to the issue. To ensure I’m not accepting Adirondack invasives, I’ve always used the Cornell University Cooperative Extension team of master gardeners to answer my questions, look at samples and provide helpful information. I want my garden to be a haven for any pollinators.

Another excellent resource is AdkAction’s Pollinator Project. Native plants are for sale and arranged for pickup at the June 3 festival at Uihlein Farm Greenhouse on Bear Cub Road in Lake Placid. (Please get in touch with AdkAction.org for alternate plans to pick up any native plants.) Other educational sources include Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISMs), the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program, boat wash station volunteers/educators, and New York Invasive Species Council. From June 5-11, New York Invasive Species Awareness Week is hosting events and workshops. The state Department of Environmental Conservation website links to an educational film, information on the iMAP Invasive mobile app for identifying invasive plants, and other helpful options.

An invasive species is a non-native plant, insect, fish, animal, parasite or disease that expands and spreads with the potential to cause harm to human health, the economy and the environment. Invasives spread because they lack natural controls to keep them in check, such as native predators. They eventually spread unchecked, smothering their native counterparts and destroying vital links in the food chain or environment.

After some research, I find that the St. John’s wort and orange hawkweed dotting my yard are both non-native. Thankfully they aren’t an issue. I don’t need to pull up every non-native plant while providing a native food source to help maintain a healthy ecosystem. There is so much to learn, but I’ll keep doing my part to help keep the Adirondacks’ forests, fields and waterways free of invasive species. Enjoy!


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