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Massachusetts leads the way in banning invasives

It took years for native plant enthusiasts and conservation proponents to convince state authorities to ban certain invasive plants.

The prohibition first went into effect in 2006 with some species allowed to be sold until 2009. The list was developed initially, starting in 1995, by the Massachusetts Invasive Plant Advisory Group, a consortium of nursery owners, conservation advocates, scientists and state employees. They deemed 34 species to be invasive, 29 likely to be invasive and three with a potential for invasiveness.

Rena Sumner, executive director of the Massachusetts Nursery and Landscape Association, based in Conway, said the final list of 140 species, announced in 2005, includes those on the federal invasive plant list. Most were banned as of Jan. 1, 2006, but some were allowed to be sold until 2009 in order to help nursery owners and growers to reduce their inventory.

Nonetheless, the ban caused quite a financial hardship for many. John Kinchla of Amherst Nurseries said he still has dozens of Norway maples in his fields, trees he cannot sell but is a bit reluctant to cut down. His story is multiplied throughout Massachusetts and New England.

“It’s not instant potatoes,” Sumner explained. It takes five to seven years to grow a woody plant — tree or shrub — from a cutting or seed to sale size. “Our growers did feel the pain,” she added.

Massachusetts is a leader in dealing with invasive plants, she noted, adding that the nursery industry underwrote much of the work in developing the invasive plant list. “It was the right thing to do,” she said. “We should be proud of that.”

New Hampshire also has a list of banned invasives but other New England and Mid-Atlantic states are lagging behind. Doug Tallamy, author of “Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants,” lamented recently that Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania have yet to develop such lists.

For a list of the MIPAG plants, check the website: www.massnrc.org/mipag/.

For the complete list, consult: http://www.flowersplantsinct.com/pdf/MassInvasivesProhibited.pdf. or http://www.eddmaps.org/ipane/ (Note that not all species on this list are currently banned.) For more information on the Massachusetts Nursery and Landscape Association, the website is: www.mnla.com.

Bill Cullina’s recommended substitutes can be found at: http://www.newfs.org/docs/docs/invalt2.pdf.

Helpful books include: “A Guide to Invasive Plants in Massachusetts,” Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, 2006.

“Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants,” C. Colston Burrell, Janet Marinelli and Bonnie Harper-Love, editors, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 2006.

“Why Grow That When You Can Grow This?, Andrew Keys, Timber Press, 2012.

“Native Trees, Shrubs and Vines,” William Cullina, Houghton Mifflin, 2002.

— Cheryl B. Wilson


Beware of the invaders: Seek out native replacements for burning bush, bittersweet and other stunning but destructive beauties

Monday, March 25, 2013

Norway maple, Japanese barberry and burning bush for decades were popular landscape plants throughout New England. Now, however, they are banned from sale in Massachusetts because of their invasive nature. The problem for homeowners and landscape professionals is what to plant in their place. “Burning bush in particular people still look for,” said Dan Ziomek, nursery manager at the Hadley …

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