Non-Native vs. Invasive

“Any plant in the wrong place is a weed.”

When one explores the “Non-Native vs. Invasive” debate, they often encounter the idea that parallels the old adage:  “A square is a rectangle, but a rectangle is not a square” -an old favorite from your 3rd grade geometry class.

The truth of the matter is that not all non-native plants are bad. In fact, some of them can be quite beneficial and fit into existing natural systems without creating too much disturbance. Many times we think of non-native plants as evil organisms that are out to destroy our ecosystems. Sure, they’re sneaky enough- but they lack the incriminating intent (also capes, lairs, and masks.)

The vast majority of plants that originate in other parts of the world are not invasive at all.  Many of us have had non-native plants in gardens, and yet our yards lived in harmony and without any plotting to take over the world. How is that possible?

In order to have healthy lands and waters, systems need balance and sustainability. Did you know that almost 70 species of insects and seven species of fungus utilize Garlic Mustard in Europe?  In North America, it is not used by any organisms (save a few humans) and it has no natural controls. This simple fact is the reason why Garlic Mustard is so destructive here, and a relatively harmless herb elsewhere.

So listen, Garlic Mustard: Please don’t take this personally.  It’s not you;  It’s us.  We can still be friends, but North America needs more space. We wish it could have worked out between us, but you’re too overbearing.  My parents don’t approve of you, (Hi Dad!) and I think it’s best for all of us if we start seeing different ecosystems- because you deserve a better than to be pulled and thrown out. You’ll find the perfect area with the right amount of control and balance- because Garlic Mustard, we want you to be happy…  just happy somewhere else.

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