Invasive species are considered one of the greatest threats to biodiversity (they are ranked alongside habitat loss, pollution, unsustainable resource use, climate change and population growth). So it stands to reason that several of the events that took place in honour of International Biodiversity Day focused on invasive species; removing them, teaching people how to identify and avoid them, and in some cases, replacing them with native species. One such project that BEAN was proud to support with IBD Event Funding was the Ontario Invasive Plant Council’s (OIPC) Goutweed Removal Day.
What is Goutweed?
Goutweed (Aegopodium podagraria) is a plant native to Europe and Northern Asia. It was originally brought to North America as an ornamental and medicinal plant and today is a familiar sight in many gardens and nurseries. Outside of its native range Goutweed is a highly invasive groundcover that spreads quickly via underground rhizomes.
While it can be an inconvenience in household gardens, requiring diligent weeding, it becomes a real threat to biodiversity when it spreads into natural areas such as ravines, forest understories and stream banks. Once it invades a natural area, Goutweed out competes native species, crowding out forest understory plants (even tree seedlings!) and destroys valuable wildlife habitat. It can reach these areas from nearby gardens, and from the dumping of garden and yard waste.
What can gardeners do about Goutweed?
On May 29th, the OIPC invited volunteers to help remove the Goutweed from the gardens outside their office, dispose of it properly and replant the area with native species.
After removing 5 bags of Goutweed, volunteers and OIPC staff filled the empty garden with over 100 native plants! These included Bearberry, Wild Strawberry, Wintergreen, Hairy Beardtongue, Heath Aster, Butterfly Milkweed, Brown Eye Susan, Prairie Smoke, Wild Columbine, Comfrey, Purple Coneflower, Cyndrical Blazing Star, Canada Anemone. These are low maintenance wildflowers that will provide food for pollinators, small mammals and help to prevent new invasive species from establishing in the garden.
It was an enjoyable day in the garden that also introduced volunteers to the impacts of invasive horticultural plants, as well as the many native and non-invasive alternatives available.
The Ontario Invasive Plant Council is a non-profit organization dedicated to responding to the threat of invasive plants in the province. The produce and deliver educational resources, Best Management and control materials, and provide a forum to bring together invasive plant experts from across Ontario and beyond.
For information on native plants for your garden, download copies of the OIPC’s “Grow Me Instead” guides for Northern & Southern Ontario.