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Warning: 3 Trees You Should Never Plant

Matthew Grocoff

September 20, 2016

By: Matthew Grocoff, Green Renovation Expert

In: Landscaping

Aliens are invading America! Posing as beautiful trees and flowers they are slowing killing forests, insects and birds. Many of us are unwitting accomplices in this war on native landscapes. According to Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health, "An invasive species is a non-native species (including seeds, eggs, spores, or other propagules) whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic harm, environmental harm, or harm to human health. The term "invasive" is used for the most aggressive species. These species grow and reproduce rapidly, causing major disturbance to the areas in which they are present."

Insects co-evolve with native plants. Landscapes that only have non-native or invasive plants destroy habitat and food sources for native insects. If there are no homes or food for the insects, there is no food for birds, and ultimately . . . without birds there are no humans.

It's important that we sustain the species that sustain us. Biodiversity is vital to our well-being. Human health is at risk if we lose a landscape capable of sustaining the species upon which we depend.

Here's a few things you should not plant if you live in an area where these plants are considered invasive. To learn more about invasive species and what you should avoid in your area, visit www.Invasives.org and read Doug Tallamy's book, Bringing Nature Home.

#1 Norway Maple:

Contrary to its name, the Norway Maple first arrived in America from England in 1756. It's dense shade is appealing for homeowners and it's widely adaptable. So it quickly became popular in both cities, towns and rural areas. The problem is that it's become a common part of the landscape and displaced many native species. The Norway Maple can quickly make a yard shady and look like it's full of life. In reality, this invasive tree can quickly make a yard an ecological dead zone. My own yard is full of Norway Maples. With its shallow water-hogging roots and dense shade, nothing else can grow underneath it. It displaces other native maple trees and native wildflowers. The worst part is that it supports very few native insect species. This doesn't sound like a big deal until you consider that 70% of insects on the Eastern Seaboard have disappeared. An invasive Norway Maple supports only 7 species of caterpillars and butterflies. A native Burr Oak tree supports over 517 species!! That kind of habitat displacement leads us into a modern silent spring that rival the consequences of toxic pesticides like DDT.

Plant Instead: Sugar Maple or Red Maple if you live within their native zones.

#2 Bradford Pear:

The Bradford Pear tree is native to Vietnam and China. While a beautiful, fast growing tree with lovely white flowers, the tree smells like a rotting corpse when in full bloom. It's widely popular as a street tree and is still sold in some stores. The branches are very weak and crack and fall easily in storms or with ice. Worst of all, they are obliterating native landscapes. It is considered worse than kudzu and is expected be threatening local ecosystems in the United States for possibly the next 100 years or more. Once thought to be sterile, the trees are reproducing prolifically by cross-breeding with other pear trees. The offspring are incredibly thick and thorny and must be removed by heavy tractor equipment. They choke out native species of pines, dogwoods, maples, redbuds, and oaks.

#3 Eucalyptus:

The Blue Gum Eucalyptus is California's most famous invasive plant. Just typing these words I can imagine the luxurious smell of Eucalyptus. It smells like California. Brought from Tasmania to California during the Gold Rush, the Eucalyptus grows extraordinarily fast - much faster than its counterpart in its native Australia. They soak up a huge amount of groundwater. While beneficial in the 1800s for drying up a wetland, this adaptation is detrimental to the drought stricken state. Much of the state's native species have succumbed to the proliferation of the Eucalyptus. The tree is extremely disruptive to the natural fire cycle. The oily leaves are fuel for wildfire. The tree canopies easily burst into flames and spread fire more rapidly than it would through a native landscape. Sadly, the Eucalyptus has an exceptional ability to re-sprout after a fire. The fire actually strengthens the trees ability to grow on the land, further out-competing natives.

What Should You Plant? Check out this list from Doug Tallamy: http://www.bringingnaturehome.net/what-to-plant.html

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