Native Plants & Invasive Species
What are Native Plants?
Native plants are an important part of the local natural ecosystem. They provide a critical link for native insects, birds, and other species that have evolved together. Native plants can also provide a variety of benefits including: (1) streambank stabilization – roots from native plants help hold soil in place and slow erosion; (2) food and cover for wildlife – migrating birds, waterfowl, and threatened and endangered species use the plants for food and cover. Fish feed on the aquatic organisms that consume leaves and twigs dropped in the water; (3) pollution filtration – surrounding land uses can contribute pollution such as sediment and soil, human and animal waste, and toxics such as oil and car exhaust fumes, to waterways. A buffer strip of native plants can reduce the impact of surrounding land uses on waterways; (4) easy care and water conservation – native plants are adapted to the local soil conditions, moisture conditions, and weather conditions of our area; and (5) beautiful landscaping – many native plants have attractive flowers, foliage, fall color and winter twigs that produce a unique landscape. Using native plants to help restore the watershed and its ecological functions is a conservative approach to ecosystem restoration and enhancement – you can get started by working in your own backyard!
What are Invasive Plants?
Invasive plants threaten natives!
An invasive species is an introduced/exotic/non-native organism that flourishes and dominates its surroundings. They can often do this because they have left their natural predators behind and are highly adaptable. Invasive plants take over native habitats that are important for our native wildlife; displace important forage and crop plants that in turn may cause raised prices; affect recreational activities; and threaten biodiversity.
Invasive species should be removed and/or controlled when possible, especially populations that are just moving in. It is up to each one of us to help control and/or remove them on our own properties and in our community!
Common Invasive Plants in Northwestern Wisconsin
There are also other invasive plants and animals that we should watch out for in our aquatic and terrestrial habitats. While some of these are listed as “prohibited” by WI Department of Natural Resources, some of them are already threatening nearby areas. They include:
- Yellow flag iris
- Common carp
- Sea lamprey
- Zebra Mussel