TRAVERSE CITY — The battle against invasive plants continues to spread across the Grand Traverse region.
Eight nursery owners and six landscaping firms have enrolled in a new “Go Beyond Beauty” program to reduce sales of invasive plants and to educate the public about the critical habitat role native plants play for wildlife.
More than half of the invasive plants found in high-quality natural areas originated in area gardens, said Matthew Bertrand, invasive species specialist for the Grand Traverse Conservation District, which established the initiative.
The eight participating nurseries are Bellwether Gardens, Garden Goods, Greystone Gardens, Green Lake Gardens & Goods, Northwoods Landscape & Nursery, Misty Ridge Greenhouse, Four Seasons Nursery and Pine Hill, Bertrand said.
All have committed to stop selling popular invasive plants and shrubs that are on the Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network “Top 20 Least Wanted” list, including the region’s most troublesome plant invaders — garlic onion, Japanese barberry and Japanese knotweed.
The six landscaping firms are Silverman & Company, Designs in Bloom, Grand Traverse Organic Landscapes, Bloomin’ Buddies, Old Mission Associates and The Mossy Tree. The landscape professionals have signed a commitment for 2013 not to purchase or plant high-priority invasive ornamentals on the region’s Top 20 list or early detection species listed on the network’s ornamental plants list.
The goals of the voluntary Go Beyond Beauty effort are to protect the region’s natural areas, parks and wildlife habitat from losing more ground to invasive plant species and to help educate gardeners on the threat invasive plants pose to birds, butterflies, other insects, wildlife and native habitat in the northern Michigan ecosystem.
State and federal governments have considered invasive plant species a critical environmental problem since 1999 for several reasons. They crowd out native plants. They threaten biodiversity by harming wildlife. They disrupt complex food-chain interactions that have evolved over thousands of years between native plants, insects, birds, butterflies, frogs, deer, elk and other wildlife. They can hinder forest regeneration and diminish the amount and quality of recreational opportunities in state forests and natural areas.