Alien Invasion

Not little green men, but little green plants from across the seas.


Invasive plants like buckthorn trees and garlic mustard spread rapidly and compete with native species for resources (soil, water and nutrients) and eventually can dominate the landscape. Their toll on the environment is second only to habitat destruction.

These invaders have no natural enemies, far from their homes in Europe or Asia where local insects, animals, fungi, bacteria, parasites, and diseases attack or feed on them and keep their population in check. Our native wildlife doesn’t recognize invasive plants as food. Insects and other animals have evolved to eat those plants that they have eaten for thousands of years. Invasive plants haven’t been here long enough for wildlife or pathogens to adapt to eating or infecting them.

How did they get here?

Most were brought deliberately. Buckthorn was introduced as a barrier hedge, lesser celandine and wintercreeper came as attractive ground covers. Agriculture brought sweet clover for animal feed and teasel for carding wool.

Once we have removed invasive species, we aim to restore a more natural forest or prairie ecosystem. Restoring native plants from these ecosystems involves activities such as collecting seeds from nearby healthy stocks, sorting seeds, growing seedlings in a greenhouse, planting seedling and trees, sowing seeds, watering and weeding.

Stop the Invasion!

In your own yard you can replace “evil” buckthorn with friendly blackhaw viberum, nannyberry, serviceberry, American filbert, wahoo, ninebark or sumac. You can substitute invasive flowering plants like Queen Anne’s lace, white sweet clover and purple loosestrife with native purple coneflowers, cardinal flowers, cream wild indigo, wild quinine, blazing star and so many more! Alien tall grasses like Chinese or Amur silver can be replaced by neighborly little bluestem, prairie dropseed, June grass and Indian grass.

As the Friends remove invasive plants from the Green Bay Trail, we aim to restore a more natural prairie ecosystem.

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