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Skaggs: Learn to curb invasive plants

POSTED: August 22, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Plant species brought into an area where they did not ecologically develop or where they are not considered native, are often termed exotic.

Many exotic plants and trees are grown for food, ornamental, aesthetic or other specialized uses. Sometimes these exotic plants escape cultivation and start to survive, grow and reproduce on their own.

Self-replicating exotic plants can pose a threat to local ecological systems by replacing species and modifying the interconnections between species and site processes.

In some cases, exotic species are considered to be an ecological asset, while in other situations, exotics trees are considered pests.

In Georgia, invasive, exotic plants are an increasing threat to the state's natural areas and forests.

Some of the plants classified as invasive likely come to mind easily, such as kudzu or wisteria. However, there are many others that are relatively common in the landscape, such as tree of heaven, mimosa, English ivy, eleagnus, Chinese privet, Japanese honeysuckle, royal paulownia and multiflora rose.

Education is a vital tool in the fight against invasive, exotic plants. The more that is known, the more we are able to deal with the problem.

Here are a few steps the average resident can take to reduce the spread of invasive, exotic plants.

Do not plant a problem. The Georgia Exotic Pest Plant Council has a list of plants that should not be planted.

Do not use fill dirt from weedy sites, and clean equipment before tilling or moving soil into your yard.

Purchase certified weed-free hay and straw, and watch nursery stock for weeds.

Don't dig up plants from roadsides and take them home. Join local groups that are involved with invasive species programs.

To learn more about what you can do, consider attending the Georgia Exotic Pest Plant Council annual meeting Sept. 19-20 at Elachee Nature Science Center in Gainesville.

You can join the Georgia Exotic Pest Plant Council and a team of experts in the field Sept. 19 for an all-day program that includes the latest information about invasive plants in Georgia, collaborative management efforts, policy issues, new infestations, reporting and mapping invasive plant populations and management techniques.

On Sept. 20, GA-EPPCs highly successful Invasive, Non-native Plant Identification and Control Workshop will be offered. Participants can choose to attend one day or both days.

Friday registration for nonmembers costs $50, which includes lunch, refreshment breaks, hand-outs and a one-year membership in GA-EPPC. The Saturday workshop fee is $15 if you attend the Friday program or $25 for the one-day workshop.

Foresters, land managers, homeowners, landowners, extension agents, gardeners and nursery and landscape professionals are encouraged to attend.

Pesticide applicator and certified arborist credits are available to attendees.

Billy Skaggs is an agricultural agent and Hall County Extension Coordinator. Phone: 770-531-6988. Fax: 770-531-3994.



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