Weeds: Most Wanted

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ambience: Dawn chorus, Siera Nevada

What happens when a good plant goes bad? Well, that usually occurs when it’s introduced, by accident or intent, into a new environment by humans, and then it starts crowding out native species. In a word, it becomes – a weed. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Well, here’s a rogue’s gallery of some of “America’s Most Wanted Weeds,” courtesy of Barry Meyers Rice, an invasive species expert with the Nature Conservancy.

“In the Northeast of the United States, there is a plant called purple loosestrife, which is a real bad problem in a lot of locations. Let’s go down into Florida, there’s a plant called melaleuca, or punk tree, which is just transforming the Everglades from the big open Everglades that everyone’s familiar with, into just a dense forest of these trees. In the Gulf Coast, down in through Texas, there’s a lot of concern about giant salivinia. It’s a fern, it floats on the surface of the water, and these plants can double in population in less than a week. And this can just transform a lake into just this solid mat of salvinia – it’s a terrible plant. In California, there’s a plant called yellow star thistle, which everyone hates because not only is it an invasive weed, but it’s spiny, and so you can’t walk through a field of yellow star thistle without having bloody legs at the end of it. Leafy spurge in the Midwest is a plant which is unpalatable to cattle, it crowds out all of the natives, so that’s a bad plant. Japanese honeysuckle, in the eastern United States, just forms dense mats and climbs up and just chokes vegetation.”

We’ll hear what you can do to help control invasive weeds in future programs.

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

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Weeds: Most Wanted

An exotic plant can be like the proverbial rotten apple.
Air Date:07/04/2003
Scientist:
Transcript:


music
ambience: Dawn chorus, Siera Nevada

What happens when a good plant goes bad? Well, that usually occurs when it's introduced, by accident or intent, into a new environment by humans, and then it starts crowding out native species. In a word, it becomes - a weed. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Well, here's a rogue’s gallery of some of "America's Most Wanted Weeds," courtesy of Barry Meyers Rice, an invasive species expert with the Nature Conservancy.

"In the Northeast of the United States, there is a plant called purple loosestrife, which is a real bad problem in a lot of locations. Let’s go down into Florida, there’s a plant called melaleuca, or punk tree, which is just transforming the Everglades from the big open Everglades that everyone’s familiar with, into just a dense forest of these trees. In the Gulf Coast, down in through Texas, there’s a lot of concern about giant salivinia. It’s a fern, it floats on the surface of the water, and these plants can double in population in less than a week. And this can just transform a lake into just this solid mat of salvinia - it’s a terrible plant. In California, there’s a plant called yellow star thistle, which everyone hates because not only is it an invasive weed, but it’s spiny, and so you can’t walk through a field of yellow star thistle without having bloody legs at the end of it. Leafy spurge in the Midwest is a plant which is unpalatable to cattle, it crowds out all of the natives, so that’s a bad plant. Japanese honeysuckle, in the eastern United States, just forms dense mats and climbs up and just chokes vegetation."

We'll hear what you can do to help control invasive weeds in future programs.

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.

music