How Pulling out Plants Can Save Nature
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How Pulling out Plants Can Save Nature

By Layla Kluth

Invasive plants are plants that are not native to an ecosystem and have been brought there by humans—not always purposefully. Invasive plants are destructive because they disrupt the delicate balance of the ecosystem that is established by native species. When a new species is introduced that has no natural predator or any other threats, it can spread uncontrollably, take space and nutrients from native plants, and threaten any organisms that rely on these native plants. Thus, invasive plants not only harm the health of the ecosystem they are introduced to, but also threaten the overall biodiversity of the Earth. 

Each of us can help prevent the spread of invasive species and reduce their damage on the environment. We can educate ourselves on invasive species in our neighborhood by consulting the internet, for example. If we can identify these harmful plants, we can pull them out and remove them completely. We can also be mindful of how we spread seeds. Whether we notice it or not, seeds get attached to us and our things when we move around. To avoid spreading the seeds of invasive species, we can clean off our shoes and clothes after walking through nature and choose not to drive or walk through areas overgrown with invasive plants. 

One of the most common invasive plants in New York and New Jersey is garlic mustard, a short, leafy plant with white flowers native to Europe and Asia. Garlic mustard is a very successful invasive plant for a variety of reasons: it produces large numbers of small, long-lasting seeds; it doesn’t need another plant nearby to produce seeds; it can grow in shady and sunny areas; it isn’t eaten by native wildlife; and it comes out in the spring earlier than other plants (hey, that’s cheating!). So, the next time you see one of these unwanted plants growing in New York City, make sure you pull it out, and know that you’re doing it for the greater good of the ecosystem!


References

Garlic mustard. (n.d.). University of Minnesota. 

https://extension.umn.edu/identify-invasive-species/garlic-mustard

Garlic mustard identification and control. (n.d.). King County. https://kingcounty.gov/services/environment/animals-and-plants/noxious-weeds/weed-identification/garlic-mustard.aspx

July. (2020, July 22). Garlic mustard: Invasive, destructive, edible. The Nature Conservancy. https://www.nature.org/en-us/about-us/where-we-work/united-states/indiana/stories-in-indiana/garlic-mustard/

Why is this species a problem? (2015, February 6). Portland Oregon. https://www.portlandoregon.gov/bes/article/472724

Kluth, L. (2023). Garlic Mustard Illustration.