Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Purple Loosestrife

For the past year or so I've been trying to break the habit of buying plants at garden centers without doing any research. Sure most of the plants are clearly labeled and all the facts you need to know about their care are right there. But one has to remember these people are trying to sell you something. One day while walking through the isles of one of my favorite garden places I saw they had a new plant. It looked like Fire Weed, a native wildflower, but when I read the label my jaw dropped.
Purple Loosestrife
This is a dangerous weed in the US. It's something of a raggy looking plant that does great near the waterways. So good infact that most other plants can't compete with it. Each one is loved by pollinators and has no trouble dropping a few thousand seeds each year. Worst of all, simply destrubing the soil is enough to trigger them to germinate. This makes them hard to control and simply trying to pick the plants will cause the seed bank below to all sprout into action, while the river takes them farther down stream.

So I asked the one of the top gardeners there "Why the Hell are you selling this!?"

He explained "It's not banned in our State." and then he did something amazing. Without taking another thought on his part he actually went on to name All the states that it was banned in including all the serounding states and many of America's heartland states where farming is often done.

I was just staring at him a while and he did the same to me. I didn't need to make my point, he had alread done it for me. After a moment I just walked off nodding my head. I'm not sure if I got through to him on that day but I was happy to see, upon returning a month later, that someone had cut all of the flowers off the Purple Loosestrife.

If I find they're still selling it next year I'll contact whoever I must to get it banned. I don't care if it's not an invasive in our state at all, the fact that we're allowing it to be sold undermindes the work of conservationiests and the Millions spent each year on it.

This plants hogs all the space so our natives like Milkweed, Joe Pye Weed, Goldenrod, Fireweed, and ButtonBush are all tossed to the side. Don't let their common names fool you. Milkweed is the host plant to the Monarch Butterfly as well 11 others; Joe Pye is our native version of the also invasive Butterfly Bush (in my opinion); Goldenrod, Fireweed and ButtonBush are all importan food sources for our native bugs, which inturn feed our native birds and so on.