What do we mean when we say "invasive species?"

By Kelly Vowels

Bush Honeysuckle, one of the most prevalent invasive species at Bernheim
Bush Honeysuckle, one of the most prevalent invasive species at Bernheim

Next week, while the Natural Areas are closed for wildlife management, the Bernheim staff will be in the arboretum removing many invasive species from the woodlots. Invasive species are not native to our area and are harmful to the ecosystem. They can form thick monocultures (areas that grow a single species) and can push out other beautiful native plants and animals.

Not every exotic species is invasive, and we are learning everyday about new species that have become invasive. Here at Bernheim, we have been identifying invasive species in our collection and removing them  to protect our natural forests.  Many of you have probably noticed the removal of the pear trees, golden rain tree, and the burning bush, but these are only the beginning.

One of the worst invasive species in our woodlots is Bush Honeysuckle. It was planted here in the 1950s as a shrub and spread quickly from there. Bernheim removed it from the collection decades ago, but we are still paying the price. That is why we are now very careful in what is planted at Bernheim. We are consistently working to remove other potentially invasive species from our collection, so that the health of our natural areas is protected.

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