Hundreds of invasive species are for sale as garden plants in the United States •

A new study by environmentalists at University of Massachusetts Amherst revealed that 1,330 garden centers and online retailers still sell invasive species as garden plants. Of the hundreds of invasive plants the team found available for sale, 20 species are illegal to grow or sell nationwide.

“Once we recognize that an ornamental plant can be invasive, we hope that commercial sales of this species will cease,” said Evelyn M. Beaury, lead author of the study.

“But our results show that our current framework for removing invasive plants from the plant trade is not working. States generally do a good job of limiting sales from their own regulated factories, but we found major inconsistencies in what is regulated across state borders. Almost all states have sold at least one of their regulated plants in a neighboring state. “

The researchers found that 61 percent of the 1,285 plant species identified as invasive in the United States remain available through the plant trade. This includes 50 percent of state regulated species and 20 percent of federal noxious weeds.

According to the study authors, the most concerning case of sales of federally designated noxious weeds is the availability of cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica), which they found offered by 33 sellers in 17 states. This aggressive species, native to Southeast Asia, has quickly spread to the South in recent decades and is ranked among the most invasive plants in the world.

“This is a delicate case, because the breeders are marketing a sterile cultivar. But research shows that these plants are not completely sterile and can still become invasive, ”explained Beaury.

Some of the sellers are large online marketplaces like eBay and Amazon, where invasive plants can be shipped across state borders.

“While uneven state regulations are certainly contributing to the widespread availability of invasive plants in the United States, it’s clear that we as the public also don’t know which plants are invasive and how they spread in new ones. areas, ”Beaury said.

“We’ve already heard from state regulators who have used our results to follow up with growers selling invasive species. This is great news, and if we are to continue to protect native ecosystems, regulators and managers need more resources to do so.

Researchers suggest that regional regulations, along with educating growers and consumers, are needed to reduce the ongoing spread of garden plants known to be invasive in the United States.

“We’ve known for decades that many gardening and landscaping plants are invasive, but we haven’t done much to stop their spread. We can do better, ”said Bethany Bradley, lead author of the study.

The study is published in the journal Frontiers in ecology and environment.

Through Chrissy sexton, Editor-in-chief