April Conservation Conversations: What’s Blooming: Invasive vs. Native Species in Tennessee

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Together we’ve gone out and removed invasive privet, planted native tree saplings, and learned how to cultivate our gardens. We got further into the weeds and dug even deeper into this hot topic this past Wednesday in our latest Conservation Conversations: What’s Blooming?. 

Guiding the discussion were our invited guest experts, Murray Gheesling and Cooper Breeden. 

Murray, of the TN Division of Natural Areas, started off this blooming conversation by covering the basics: what are invasives and why do we control them? 

As its name suggests, invasive species aren’t a good thing. They aren’t from or adapted to the regions they’re introduced to. And whether or not the reason for their introduction is for ornamental purposes or agricultural services, these plants can cause environmental, economic and even human harm. There are several ways, however, that Tennesseans can help control and minimize the presence of invasive plants in our state. This ranges from herbicides (approved and safe!) to controlled burning.

Cooper, Plant Conservation Manager of the Southeastern Grassland Initiative, discussed what makes a native plant native. These plants originated and evolved in the region in which they are found and are critical foundations of ecosystems, providing both food and habitat to wildlife. 

What is a region, however? Regions can mean a political boundary or the type of plant hardiness zone. These small facts are important to remember when choosing what plants to use in your own garden. By buying responsibly sourced plants and knowing the plants you’re buying, we can keep Tennessee’s natives blooming.

There are, however, some common misconceptions about invasives and how to control them, which is exactly why we host these events – to keep the public in the know of what is truly best for our environment and our waterways. To learn more and better understand the relationship between invasive and native plant species,  watch the full discussion on our Youtube channel below! 

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