Why is it important to know which plants can be invasive? Invasive plants are a leading threat to biodiversity, second only to habitat destruction. And $80 million is spent each year to protect California from invasive species. A quote from the California Invasive Plant Council (www.cal-ipc.org/): Across California, invasive plants damage wildlands.….displace native plants and wildlife, increase wildfire and flood danger, consume valuable water, degrade recreational opportunities and destroy productive range and timber lands. I was shocked at some of the plants that are listed as severely invasive (as opposed to moderate or limited), such as the Mexican feather grass seen above. This plant is a darling of landscape professionals. Other commonly used severely invasive plants include some iceplants, fountain grass, pampas grass, French, Spanish and Scotch brooms, fennel, and English and Algerian ivy.
The invasive plant council publishes an inventory of invasive plants and alerts on their website. The IPC says California is the home to 4,200 native plant species and is considered a “biodiversity hotspot”. Approximately 1,800 non-native plants also grow in the wild in the state. The website, www.plantright.org, is helpful and publishes a form letter you can send to nursery professionals asking them to promote alternatives for the problem plants in each region of the state, such as the native deer grass shown below, a good replacement for pampas grass and Mexican feather grass.
Good places to buy native plants as listed by area to the left on my website: Ventura County: Matilija Nursery, Nopalito Native Plant Nursery; East Valley: Theodore Payne Foundation; Los Angeles: Grow Native Nursery at the VA; Orange County: Tree of Life Nursery; San Diego County: Las Pilitas Nursery. Many general nurseries will carry native plants and they will identified as such.
For SoCal event information: www.pacifichorticulture.org/calendar/soCal/