Words of encouragement when battling invasive plants 2-4-16

Unruly privet, with a boatload of berries, is already taking over this section of alley in the Avenues. Each bird-luring berry has potential to be planted in your back yard.
Unruly privet, with a boatload of berries, is already taking over this section of alley in the Avenues. Each bird-luring berry has potential to be planted in your back yard. Heather Hacking — Enterprise-Record

If you sent me an email or a note on Facebook last week, thanks so much. I’m glad the short, but heart-felt rant about privet hit a nerve. I needed the encouragement to stay the course and rekindle my resentment against privet.

It feels really good to know others also hold a grudge against certain plants.

Susan Mason sent some useful information. If you don’t know her, Susan is a plant-yanking rock star and cofounder of Friends of Bidwell Park. If you looked at her hands I’m betting she has callouses from making our favorite green places better places.

In her very helpful email, she said her group has spent 4,835 hours removing privet, at last count.

Additionally, the Mount Lassen Chapter of the California Native Plant Society “logged almost 1,500 hours of privet removal on other Chico creeks, she noted.

This is unbelievable people. Lets give these people some rest.

Here is a link to some good photos of one common type of privet, http://goo.gl/lMVwtm. If you learn what it looks like you can kill it in your yard. You can kill it if you see it growing from the crack in the pavement. You can shame your neighbors if they have privet growing as a hedge.

Today I am feeling badly that I almost let down my guard.

I had learned the evils of privet 20 years ago from my friend Shelley. However, when I moved to this new place and saw the plant growing everywhere, it seemed easier to let it grow than to spend time finding something else.

In her helpful note, Susan continued by saying that there are actually three invasive privet species in town, Ligustrum japonicum, Ligustrum lucidum and Ligustrum ovalifolium.

Now we know.

I asked Susan whether there were other plants we should really watch for.

One resource is www.plantright.org, which has the hot list of plants a lot of people don’t like. If you check this out, you’ll notice that many of these are some very lovely plants. These might even be things you would buy in a six-pack at your favorite big-box store, such as periwinkle and Pampas grass.

In her note, Susan says that periwinkle was purposefully planted in Bidwell Park in the 1950s by Boy Scouts with very good intentions.

Next time you’re in the park you may admire the pretty blue periwinkle flowers. Yet, make a mental note of how this plant can sprawl for acres and acres.

When Susan and her fellow plant pickers work in the park they also yank olives, ailanthus and hackberry.

A University of California research article, talks about how much easier it is to identify plants that might really take over, rather than waiting until those plants really take over.

When we’re done talking evil and invasive, we might as well talk about really evil and really invasive. There’s a list for that as well.

Susan helpfully pointed me (and us) in the direction of the California Invasive Plant Council, which conveniently lists plants we should learn to hate.

Here you will find English ivy, scarlet wisteria, Russian olive and edible fig.

Uh oh. I don’t know about others, but we went out of our way to procure a fig tree. I guess it wasn’t that hard. It was a volunteer in someone’s yard.

The nice thing about this second website is that alternative plants are listed.

Now I’m in the market for some fast-growing plants that will cover up a cyclone fence. Vining plants welcome.

Does anyone have some volunteer plants they are willing to donate to my cause?

Contact reporter Heather Hacking at 896-7758.

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