Win a copy of Coppice Agroforestry this week in the Woodland forum!
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com pie forums private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • paul wheaton
  • Leigh Tate
stewards:
  • Pearl Sutton
  • r ranson
  • Mike Haasl
master gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • John F Dean
  • Beau Davidson
  • Nancy Reading
  • Jay Angler
gardeners:
  • L. Johnson
  • thomas rubino
  • S Rogers

Pros and cons of planting "invasive species"

 
Posts: 17
Location: Central MN
2
foraging books cooking
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm trying to gather more information on a few plants that sound useful for food but are considered a nuisance in my area. Curiously, I've almost never encountered these (to my knowledge), though I've lived in central/south central Minnesota my entire life. I'd harvest where they're already growing, but I don't even know of any places I can get my hands on them.
         
I know "invasive" can be a very inflammatory word, so I use it carefully to mean a species that is not merely non-native, but whose spread has done measurable harm to local ecology and/or agriculture. A bit like calling them "weeds"; many "weed" plants can be wonderful in their own right, but if they damage the crop on which you depend, I understand the frustration and need to control it.
         
The main plants I'm eyeing, which I am told are invasive - though none outright banned - by my local authorities, are:
         Caragana arborescens, Siberian pea shrub
         Elaeagnus umbellata, Autumn olive
         Cyperus esculentus, Chufa or tiger nut

Does anyone have any experience to share as to using these plants or fighting them? Pros vs cons? Can they be grown responsibly? Is it possible to keep them isolated or otherwise controlled to stop their spread? I'm also interested in other, safer edible perennials or self-seeding annuals that will grow in our very hot summer, very cold winter climate. (Geographically zone 4, but I fear our land lies in a bit of a frost pocket that might bring it down to zone 3.) Thanks for any wisdom you might send my way!
 
gardener
Posts: 2371
Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
504
2
cat rabbit urban cooking
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I deal with a completely different climate and haven't dealt with these plants.  Using the search featured under the menu I'm the top left corner of the forum does turn up some discussion about this issue.

https://permies.com/t/85316 this one seems to be relevant if you're looking at the potential for combining a nitrogen fixer and a crop.


https://permies.com/t/164831/Making-peace-invasives this one has people discussing pro and cons of invasive species and a variety of ways to respond to them.

I see several other good prospects just searching under invasive plants.  If you want to search by individual plant I'm sure there's many more.  Unfortunately I am out of time today.  I hope you find your answers.
 
master pollinator
Posts: 2786
Location: Canadian Prairies - Zone 3b
733
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I can only offer my personal perspective: I have been fighting with invasive species all my life. It is not pretty, they are destructive, and eradication is impossible -- only control. Basically, I have spent endless hours trying to clean up somebody else's mess, instead of cultivating food etc. I think it is a very dicey decision to deliberately plant invasive species, and have a hard time seeing how this could be an ethical choice. My 2c.
 
pollinator
Posts: 205
Location: Southern Utah
46
chicken building homestead
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My suggestion is to research each plant and learn about how it can ruin an environment.  My personal examples are at my old house near Las Vegas, Nevada the wind blew in grass clippings from a Bermuda grass lawn.  Bermuda grass took over a good portion of the lawn, grows completely different than Fescue or other normal types of lawns, and from what I researched pretty much impossible to eliminate once it sprouts roots.  Through no fault of my own my lawn was ruined because someone else planted a very invasive lawn in their yard.  The other is at my current location.  Foxtail Barley (Hordeum jubatum L.) and Goat's-Head (Tribulus terrestris).  These are both kind of native but also both are very invasive.  I have tried to stop them and remove them in the past with the best effort being to scatter wood chips over any exposed dirt to limit their growth but our local garbage dump stopped the program of providing free wood chips to the community so I no longer have the wood chips to limit weed growth.  Due to our chickens and ducks I wont use poison on the property so now my fight is manual labor against two aggressive invasive species.  

Yes, Foxtail grass grows well and looks great for a few weeks but those darn spike like seeds dig into everything from socks to jeans to cloth shoes and anything that is not leather or hard rubber and spreads everywhere and they poke and hurt everywhere you come in contact with them.  Trying to get rid of them will be this years goal, or I will die trying.  Either way I win because I wont have to deal with the pain of them stabbing me and scratching me everywhere from the knees down.

My point, just because something grows well and may have a purpose doesn't mean it is ideal for you or your area.  Read as much as you can, read about trying to eradicate it once it is established, read about the benefits, and read about the downfalls of having it in your area.  Ultimately it is your choice, but is it really something you are willing to deal with forever?
 
master steward
Posts: 10375
Location: USDA Zone 8a
3112
dog hunting food preservation cooking bee greening the desert
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
You have been given some great advice.

Here are some threads on those that might help you or others decide to plant or not to plant:

https://permies.com/t/45238/Siberian-Pea-Tree-aka-Caragana

https://permies.com/t/162705/permaculture-projects/Testing-edibility-Caragana-Arborescens-Siberian

https://permies.com/t/169046/thoughts-Autumn-Olive

https://permies.com/t/50346/Autumn-olive

https://permies.com/t/60450/Tiger-nuts-Cyperus-esculentus-growing

https://permies.com/t/86909/Chufa-Misadventure-AKA-Nutsedge

https://permies.com/t/37212/invasive-chufa
 
Anne Miller
master steward
Posts: 10375
Location: USDA Zone 8a
3112
dog hunting food preservation cooking bee greening the desert
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

C. Lee Greentree wrote:      
I know "invasive" can be a very inflammatory word, so I use it carefully to mean a species that is not merely non-native, but whose spread has done measurable harm to local ecology and/or agriculture. A bit like calling them "weeds"; many "weed" plants can be wonderful in their own right, but if they damage the crop on which you depend, I understand the frustration and need to control it.          



As you can see from my signature:

Invasive plants are Earth's way of insisting we notice her medicines. Stephen Herrod Buhner



Stephen Herrod Buhner and I both understand the usefulness of invasives.

The important thing to understand is how the plants are going to react to your location and growing conditions.

I like this suggestion:

Michael said, "My suggestion is to research each plant and learn about how it can ruin an environment.


 
pollinator
Posts: 3261
Location: 4b
1092
dog forest garden trees bee building
  • Likes 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I plant Autumn Olive and Pea shrub in about the same climate as yours.  I don't find them invasive.  Pea Shrub doesn't even thrive here, let alone spread.  My experience only of course.
 
steward
Posts: 13377
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
3839
4
hunting trees books food preservation solar woodworking
  • Likes 10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm usually against planting anything that could be a problem for me or those who follow.  Sure I could plant a patch of garlic mustard in my garden as a yummy herb.  But if it gets away, the forests in my area will be converted to garlic mustard deserts.  Sure I may have the best intentions of controlling it and keeping it where it is.  But what if I have to suddenly move or I get sick or otherwise have to leave the property?  The next person living here won't know what it is and it will be off to the races.

Most of the time there are alternatives to that wonderful "invasive" plant that would still suit your needs.  Please choose those instead.

Mother nature has enough to deal with.  Plants naturally move very slowly around the planet so she can adjust over time.  Jumping them a thousand years away from where they currently live (on her timeline) doesn't seem helpful to me.
 
pollinator
Posts: 535
Location: Málaga, Spain
172
home care personal care forest garden urban food preservation cooking
  • Likes 10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We have lots of invasives in our garden. Every now and then, a newcomer tell us how crazy we are to have this or that plant, be very careful about it!! Oh, mint! That will go everywhere... Raspberries? They will claim everything in sight!! Oh my, nettles! You really are crazy...
But so far, none of these invasives have really got into the environment.
So now I say, Yes, please, bring me more invasives, I want to see at least one of them thriving so I can use it for consistent mulch or whatever.
Bermuda grass is only a problem the first year in tilled garden beds. Second year, normal grasses overgrow it.
The old gardener here was crazy about fighting bermuda grass... so much effort. I think it is useless trying to eradicate it. We have our garden between the city and the hills, so there are lawns nearby. It's a war we cannot win. So now we are trying to figure out how bermuda grass can help us.
 
pollinator
Posts: 2882
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
493
kids duck forest garden chicken pig bee greening the desert homestead
  • Likes 11
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have lots of caragana on my property and I keep trying to get autumn olive to take. Nothing is invasive on my property because nothing grows well. :P

Matter of perspective I suppose.
 
Mike Haasl
steward
Posts: 13377
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
3839
4
hunting trees books food preservation solar woodworking
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think there's a spectrum of invasiveness that also needs to be taken into consideration.  There are plants that are very invasive and spread readily in southern WI that barely can eek out a living up where I live.  So I'd probably be willing to grow it here, knowing it won't spread in my conditions.  But that's still a risk.

Maybe another way of thinking about it...  Are invasive insects ok to import?  Or animals?  Maybe some wild pigs would be nice for my area so that there would be more bacon running around.  Or some emerald ash borer to provide more food for my chickens.  Or tasty rabbits for people in Australia.  We immediately recognize the risk of spread with animals that aren't balanced to the environment they're placed in.  So why are we so quick to say that plants are ok to spread when we don't truly understand the impacts of those decisions.

I'm just urging caution....

 
Trace Oswald
pollinator
Posts: 3261
Location: 4b
1092
dog forest garden trees bee building
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Mike Haasl wrote:I think there's a spectrum of invasiveness that also needs to be taken into consideration.  There are plants that are very invasive and spread readily in southern WI that barely can eek out a living up where I live.  So I'd probably be willing to grow it here, knowing it won't spread in my conditions.  But that's still a risk.

Maybe another way of thinking about it...  Are invasive insects ok to import?  Or animals?  Maybe some wild pigs would be nice for my area so that there would be more bacon running around.  Or some emerald ash borer to provide more food for my chickens.  Or tasty rabbits for people in Australia.  We immediately recognize the risk of spread with animals that aren't balanced to the environment they're placed in.  So why are we so quick to say that plants are ok to spread when we don't truly understand the impacts of those decisions.

I'm just urging caution....



Or honey bees to the US for pollination and honey.  Oh, wait...  
 
Anne Miller
master steward
Posts: 10375
Location: USDA Zone 8a
3112
dog hunting food preservation cooking bee greening the desert
  • Likes 9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

C. Lee Greentree wrote:          
The main plants I'm eyeing, which I am told are invasive - though none outright banned - by my local authorities, are:
         Caragana arborescens, Siberian pea shrub
         Elaeagnus umbellata, Autumn olive
         Cyperus esculentus, Chufa or tiger nut



I have a suggestion, the OP only wanted to talk about three plants.

The OP profile says Central MN so that is where I am looking.

Siberian Pea Shrub

It can compete with native shrubs in forest and savanna environments and overtake grassland areas and convert them to shrublands.



The good news is that there are alternatives that can be planted:

Smooth juneberry (Amelanchier laevis)
   Gray dogwood (Cornus racemosa)
   Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana)
   Bush honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera)
   Nannyberry (Viburnum lentago)
   American hazelnut (Corylus Americana)



https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/terrestrialplants/woody/siberianpeashrub.html

Elaeagnus umbellata, Autumn olive

Autumn olive can spread in a wide range of habitats including forest edges, meadows, open woods, pastures, riverbanks, roadsides, and disturbed areas. It has nitrogen-fixing root nodules that change soil chemistry and allow it to survive in poor soils.



Alternatives:

Red osier dogwood (Cornus sericea)
   Smooth juneberry (Amelanchier laevis)
   Nannyberry (Viburnum lentago)
   Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana)
   Pussy willow (Salix discolor)



https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/terrestrialplants/autumn-olive.html

Cyperus esculentus, Chufa or tiger nut

C. esculentus is cultivated for its edible tubers, called earth almonds or tiger nuts (due to the stripes on their tubers and their hard shell), as a snack food and for the preparation of horchata de chufa, a sweet, milk-like beverage.



Cyperus esculentus can be found wild, as a weed, or as a crop. It is an invasive species outside its native range,



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyperus_esculentus

I hope the OP will let us know what was decided on these plants or the alternatives.
 
Posts: 103
Location: Helena, MT zone 4
9
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have planted many Caragana arborescens in the Helena Valley as well as I inherited a few old, large specimens. We are drier than you in Wisconsin but same zone (4b). It is not invasive here. It does thrive with a bit of attention at the start, and has shown strong growth most years. It is a favorite of bumblebees. The only place I’ve seen it volunteer is beneath a Caragana hedge. Most people in the west, in my experience would not consider it invasive.
I have tried
Autumn olive has had moderate success here. Most of my original plantings a decade ago died in the first three years. The survivors tend to die back after cold winters . My guess is the low winter humidity is a factor in survival as well as our low “average” precipitation. I know people farther east of you feel that autumn olive is invasive but that climate is wetter and and warmer than here. Caveat emptor.
 
gardener
Posts: 4261
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
703
forest garden trees urban
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have one Siberian Pea shrub, I let it go to seed and have seen maybe one seedling.
I have no concern about it invading the forested hills that surround me, given that most of the existing greenery consists of non-native invasive honeysuckle.
I chose the peashrub over Autumn Olive and other nitrogen fixers.
The reports on how palatable Autumn Olives  are, are mixed.
There are many perennials with delicious berries,but few edible perennial cold hardy legumes.

The chufa I would plant in containers,  with a loose soil, to make harvesting easier and to prevent spread.
 
C. Lee Greentree
Posts: 17
Location: Central MN
2
foraging books cooking
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks for all the thoughtful responses; you've given me a lot to chew on! Trust when I say that I am the type to mull over things for quite some time before actually doing them, even for less serious endeavors than this.

For those curious, I am leaning heavily towards "no" on all three counts, though it pains me because they sound so promising on pfaf and lots of permie literature here and elsewhere. It's frustrating, but I wanted to say I do know the pain of dealing with invasives. Our property is thick with Siberian elm, non-native bush honeysuckle, and garlic mustard. Parks and nature reserves in the surrounding area are choked by buckthorn. We may already have the dreaded jumping worms. The three I asked about sound more desirable in comparison, I suppose. But I can't justify the risk of being the bad guy in any future story.

To further explain each temptation:

The pea shrub appealed to me as a perennial alternative to annual beans, with the protein and oil source giving a potential for greater food value than most fruit trees or shrubs. I sometimes think flippantly that the only reason they're not here is that the other baddies beat them to it. Anyway, tentative verdict is that it seems safer to just not muddle things further.

My first knowledge of autumn olive came from foraging blogs. I've even seen named cultivars sold on nursery websites, purported to bear sweet, tasty fruit. That's what I would have wanted them for: a hardy, self-sufficient fruit crop, with nitrogen fixing as a bonus. I'm thinking seaberries might answer both purposes with less moral dilemma.

I wanted the chufa as another of the rare protein and oil provider without much labor. I had even chosen a spot for it: a low-lying area near the house, which floods briefly in spring and gathers a puddle with every rainfall. It's even hemmed in on every side by the house and driveway. I thought that would control any rhizomatic spread, but reading about chufa's seed production... There are wetlands, lakes, and a major river nearby, so I just couldn't.

I just wanted to reiterate that I wouldn't take any risk to the ecosystem lightly. Perhaps on some level I simply wanted to be talked out of it, so thanks again.
 
pollinator
Posts: 618
Location: Appalachian Foothills-Zone 7
143
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I ripped out my Autumn Olive and every sucker I can find after seeing it taking hold at 4000 ft+ in what would otherwise be pristine native forests.  Watch a few youtube videos on the attempts to control it if you have any doubts.  Birds spread the seed.  You can not control it.
 
Douglas Alpenstock
master pollinator
Posts: 2786
Location: Canadian Prairies - Zone 3b
733
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Anne Miller wrote:I have a suggestion, the OP only wanted to talk about three plants.


Thanks Anne, excellent point. You're absolutely right.

Those of us who have been burned by invasives are pretty quick with the torches and pitchforks.

I had Caragana at my former property, in heavy clay soil. It was introduced many decades before to create hardy shelterbelts on the open prairie. While highly tolerant of extreme cold and drought, it certainly wasn't banned or considered invasive, and was easy enough to control. I always loved how the bumblebees went crazy for it in spring. Now that I am in a sand hill, I won't bring any over because I don't know how (or if) it will behave.
 
pollinator
Posts: 903
Location: zone 4b, sandy, Continental D
273
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
In dealing with "invasives" , we should remember that all these plants have their place in the broad spectrum of what can be grown. We usually want to combat these invasions because they endanger *another* plant that *is* native, or that we just prefer. That is when there is a conflict.
Honeybees are an invasive species, so is clover but we would not want to eradicate them.
Another point is that the flora and fauna of the entire planet keeps changing/ evolving whether we want to or not.
Sometimes, we should fight to preserve a species, but if the climate or the soil becomes inhospitable to that species, it is a fight we are going to lose. [Mother Nature always wins: Agree with her now, it will save us so much time!] We need to be conscious of these changes and keep working *with* Nature rather than *against* it.
As my zone 4b warms up, it is possible that my delicious rhubarb will no longer grow well here. I hope to die before that happens, but that ball is in motion. Perhaps I will be able to grow Mount Rainier sweet cherries instead of the tiny wild ones we have here, that have big stones and hardly any flesh around them. I don't like them but I can make Kirsch out of them. Yum.
At that point, we should remember that if we look at it right, every problem is a solution in waiting.
Say that you have an animal like rabbits in Australia that multiply very quickly and causes a lot of damage. Could they be harvested for dog food or carnivores in zoos? Could their fur be useful?
Algae bloom on lakes: It can be dragged, composted and reapplied on crops after suitable time has passed to create rich biomass. On very sandy potato fields, it may become an asset, who knows?
Here, we have black locust: the seeds of this leguminous tree are impossible to harvest. These trees make networks of roots that can overtake an entire yard. Not 20 miles from here, my county is seeking to eradicate them, but across the street which is a different county, it is not against the law to grow them [just not recommended]. Some years, the honeybees visit them, and they give us a honey that is IMHO much better than clover honey: very clear, doesn't ever crystallize. It is fragrant and delicious.  
Down South, they have Kudzu, which, from what I was told, is impossible to get rid of: Even animals won't eat it or bed on it. It seems to have no use but to annoy the unfortunate folks who live near. Kudzu would be a great example of why we should fight to prevent invasives from taking over.
 
gardener
Posts: 1280
Location: the mountains of western nc
328
forest garden trees foraging chicken food preservation wood heat
  • Likes 11
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
just to devil’s advocate a little, goats delight in eating kudzu, and a good flour/starch can be isolated from the tubers. it’s definitely not something to just plant everywhere, but it’s not the unapproachable and useless plant it’s frequently given credit for being. and if we had a culture of relating to it as a good resource to manage and not just ‘the enemy’, i think the general consensus on it would change somewhat.
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
pollinator
Posts: 903
Location: zone 4b, sandy, Continental D
273
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

greg mosser wrote:just to devil’s advocate a little, goats delight in eating kudzu, and a good flour/starch can be isolated from the tubers. it’s definitely not something to just plant everywhere, but it’s not the unapproachable and useless plant it’s frequently given credit for being. and if we had a culture of relating to it as a good resource to manage and not just ‘the enemy’, i think the general consensus on it would change somewhat.




Thanks, Greg. We don't have this in Central Wisconsin, so I was going by what I always heard about this plant. Totally agree with you that invasives can be resources too, if we care to manage them.
Thanks for the correction. That is great! So goats like it. Perhaps local governments could pay goat farmers to have their goats munch on it?
I heard it is a vine. Does it only want to climb and smother stuff? or does it replant itself, like, say a pumpkin or squash vine?
And it is a tuber? another thing I didn't know.
When you say "good" flour, what do you mean? Can you make bread from it? Would pigs be interested? Kudzu fried chips, anyone? Does it have gluten or could it make only unleavened bread? perhaps pancakes? Please tell us more: "Inquiring minds want to know!"
See: Like I was saying, it is all in the way we approach the problem.
 
Posts: 16
7
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Greg talks about culture that can appreciate it's uses. My understanding kudzu was originally brought here as a display at a worlds fair. China grew it as a valuable crop.harvested for forage and many other things. Their cold Winters and harvesting to use kept in check. Question .. anyone have experience with goji berry? I ordered 10 then read they can be invasive. So am afraid to plant.ade a mistake with rugosa rose decades ago when they were popular. Now Wisconsin DNR discourages them. They spread like crazy . Lots of seeds and root shoots. Hate to create another problem.
 
master pollinator
Posts: 4140
Location: Officially Zone 7b, according to personal obsevations I live in 7a, SW Tennessee
1666
4
forest garden foraging books food preservation cooking fiber arts bee medical herbs
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Would pigs be interested?


...in kudzu?

I couldn't find a quick reference that lists them all, but pigs cattle and chickens are also able to eat it. While I don't have personal experience,  I can tell you that there is no kudzu in the beef cattle pastures.
 
Anne Miller
master steward
Posts: 10375
Location: USDA Zone 8a
3112
dog hunting food preservation cooking bee greening the desert
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I grew up seeing kudzu every summer when I stayed with my grandparents.

I never saw it in pastures.

Kudzu was mostly on abandoned properties.  It grew over houses and into trees. Though it stopped abruptly on properties next to the abandoned ones.

Now as an adult I never see it anywhere though I don't travel where it was a problem.

Even native plants can become a problem if left to just grow where it wants to grow.
 
Posts: 9
3
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Elaeagnus species is nitrogen fixing. I plant Russian olive (Elaeagus angustifolia) here in zone 7 in Mojave Desert. There isn't enough water here for them to spread. So they aren't invading or taking over land. Invasive species can be beneficial in a controlled permaculture environment.
 
gardener
Posts: 4745
Location: Southern Illinois
1078
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
C. Lee Greentree,

A lot of very good information has been thrown at you in this post,  but that won’t stop me from adding one more thought for you to ponder.  For me, Autumn Olive is a resource that I control (not eradicate) by harvesting,  I will try to explain, but first some context.

I live a fair distance from you at the southern tip of Illinois and our climate, especially winter, is substantially different so that piece of information may color my response to you.  On my 9 rolling acres surrounded by forests and pasture, Autumn Olive grows abundantly anywhere it can’t be mowed down when young.  I have a fence line I share with a neighbor that I have deliberately let grow wild and Autumn Olive dominates that living hedge.  

In all truthfulness,  I inherited that living fence when I bought the land, but the actual metal fence was taller then than the small shrubs that were growing beside at the time.  I just let the fence go wild with whatever was there at the time.  And I am glad I did.  My living fence is now 20’ tall, 10’-30’ wide at places and is a fantastic habitat for wildlife, especially birds and deer.

Autumn Olive is terribly invasive by me but I have learned to adapt to its presence and even appreciate it, though I would have no reason to actually intentionally plant it.  I make extensive use of wood chips so every 2-3 years my neighbor and I trim back a section of the hedge and feed the branches to a chipper to make mountains of wood chips that I use in my garden.  

With all the work it takes just to trim the living fence back a couple of feet, I simply can’t exhaust my supply of wood chips as that’s more than my neighbor and I can do in a season.  Basically I have an unlimited supply of wood chips that mostly come from Autumn Olive.  Actually I have a section of fence line that needs additional trimming now and my chip supply is starting to run low so it is time to trim again.

Long story short;  I would not plant Autumn Olive as it is so terribly invasive by me, but what Autumn Olive I do have I keep under control by using it as a resource.

For your sake, IF you do decide to plant Autumn Olive I would consider some type of management technique.

As an aside, I have family that live in MN, and I don’t remember Autumn Olive being a problem there, but that was in farming country where hedge rows were few and generally well-managed.  I can appreciate Autumn Olive, but I am stuck with it.  Ultimately only you can make the decision about whether to plant this or not .

Eric
 
Posts: 1
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Pretty almond shaped small silver and blue green leaf, I have had one shrub in a hilltop fescue pasture and yard and it grew very fast. The field yonder left un mowed MEADOW filled up with it, up to ten by ten feet after a decade or two.
After five decades, gets twice as big, on a different lot it fills up the SEMI-TROPICAL FOREST TERRAIN the deer stay out, thorns form, solid soft red berries the birds carry it everywhere. Blocks airflow, hides the form of the land and other trees and plants, and makes tight hedges.
Easy to remove with electric small saw or a hand c saw or the second growth cut back with a spade. The precipitation amount rots the root.
New growth is dark green waxy. Burns leaves well.
All in all it’s here to stay and takes over despite creating its own canopy. Leggy, big, gets redundant.
If it is wanted try it. It certainly is an experience to work with this soft wood, easy to remove. Difficult to tame. The place Looks really clogged up and scraggly -  but it makes a place very private or hard to see beyond.
If you like vista and want it in a small quantity every year cut it all off and it will likely grow right back and stay small and look fresh, young, and youthful. Can be dug up from the field and transplanted or even a broken off branch stuck into the ground will work.
But, yes, the nature’s natural wooded areas are ruined by it, after years of its seed massively spreading.
 
steward
Posts: 5918
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
2493
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I welcome life into my garden and the surrounding wildlands, regardless of where it has lived previously.

Ten thousand years ago, my farm and the surrounding 20,000 square miles was underwater, therefore every species of plant and animal growing on my farm is non-native.

When I look at the ecosystem with my own eyes, I don't see non-native plants ruining anything. They provide food and shelter to insects, birds, fungi, and microbes. The ecosystem here is very jumbled up, with lots of micro-climates. Any plant can only occupy a small niche in the overall ecosystem. I'm certainly not going to war with a plant. That sort of language and behaviour is not in my nature.

Papers about "invasive biology" seem more like propaganda to me than science. Cause true science would list the benefits of the non-native species, and be as generous in assigning value as they are in maligning the plant.

Plants do not possess the super-powers that are commonly attributed to them. The non-natives are just plants. They grow like plants, they reproduce like plants.

As far as I know, there are no native species among the 100 species that I grow in my vegetable garden. When I look at the species of plants growing in the nearby wildlands, I'd guess that as many as half of them were not growing here  on the arbitrary date of 1492. But they've been here my entire lifetime, and for that of my father and grandfather, so nobody even notices.

I call a plant "native" as soon as it gets established in the nearby wildlands.

The ecosystems of 1492 were not native to start with. They had been altered by tens of thousands of years of agriculture, horticulture, and tending of the ecosystem. And 10,000 years ago, the climate changed abruptly, and the plants and animals have not fully returned to their pre-iceage ranges. And the climate continues to change, altering which plants can grow here successfully.

I welcome life into my garden and the surrounding wildlands, regardless of where it has lived previously.
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
pollinator
Posts: 903
Location: zone 4b, sandy, Continental D
273
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If your original soil is quite poor, as mine is [all sand], you start to not mind so much the "invasive species".
Building up the soil, especially on extensive surfaces has to start from somewhere.
There are a number of non-native species that started as "invasives", like the honey bee and clover. Yet we would not think of destroying them. There are others:
https://e360.yale.edu/features/alien_species_reconsidered_finding_a_value_in_non-natives
We know that our forests are ecosystems that have a certain life, then deteriorate to allow other species, even among good old native natives. There are "young forests" and "old forests". That is all in keeping with the theory of evolution: something, plant or animal, survives and thrives when a matrix of conditions exists and it fails when the conditions become adverse to its expansion. That is so with natives and that is so with alien species and there is very little we can do to change that. Sometimes our intervention, besides being expensive is catastrophic. Think of the rabbits in Australia. or Kudzu in our southern states.

So I don't get all worked up about invasive species, but you need to keep and eye on them from the onset. Around here, it is the black locust: It can form a thick thicket, overtake a whole yard,  and it has thorns and the more you cut it or mow it, the more heads pop up, like a hydra. The many seeds are distributed by birds, rabbits and so on. Yet in the county across the road, it is NOT considered and invasive species, so the rules are a bit capricious as well, which does not help. Constant mowing may -eventually- kill them, yet it offers wonderful nectar to our bees in certain years [we are still trying to figure out why they will gorge on it certain seasons but won't touch it the next]. The honey made from its nectar is superior, IMHO to clover honey, as it is transparent and never 'sugars'.
I'm not given to being religious, but if I were, I would thank the Lord for creating a slowly changing environment: "When one window closes, another one opens" kind of thinking.
It is the same thing with all the bugs/ viruses that ail us, and we are but one of God's creations. Maybe we messed up so badly that our curtain call has come? some viruses from warmer climes are coming to get us? It's more than plausible. It is likely.
 
Posts: 5
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Michael Fundaro wrote:Yes, Foxtail grass grows well and looks great for a few weeks but those darn spike like seeds dig into everything from socks to jeans to cloth shoes and anything that is not leather or hard rubber and spreads everywhere and they poke and hurt everywhere you come in contact with them.  Trying to get rid of them will be this years goal, or I will die trying.  Either way I win because I wont have to deal with the pain of them stabbing me and scratching me everywhere from the knees down.



Yeah, we have foxtail grass here, too.  It's awful.  Of course, the burr grass that we had infesting our last yard was worse!

I have a suggestion to kill them off without hurting anything else around them.  Try pouring boiling water on the foxtail sprouts!

Or, if there aren't any plants you want to keep alive nearby, try pouring undiluted human urine on them.  You'll want it to be as fresh as possible, because if it's fresh, the smell will be gone in ten minutes.  Urine is sterile and a good source of fertilizer -- it's basically pure nitrogen.  It will kill weeds because it overfertilizes them to death.  Once it rains (or you pour water there later), the concentration of nitrogen will be diluted, and the ground will be very fertile for anything you might want to grow there.

Personally, I prefer the urine approach because water is precious (I live in a desert), while urine is free and a great source of fertilizer to add to the soil anyway.  And it seems to work better than boiling water, and I'm far less concerned about burning myself when I pour it.  But boiling water would be a better solution if there are other plants within a foot or two of the weed that you want to stay healthy and not wilt from overfertilization.

 
Emily Sorensen
Posts: 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
As for invasive species in general, I am very careful not to plant them.  There are enough invasive weeds in my area already that I really, really don't want my garden to turn into a nightmare for other people.

One of the worst in my neighborhood is Chinese elms.  They're a tree that grows super fast and vigorously, drops seeds everywhere, sends up suckers everywhere, and it's dangerous to have near a house's foundations because the roots are very invasive.  Leave one tiny bit of root, and it'll resprout in about a week.  I finally discovered that yanking up the sprouts and pouring undiluted urine into that hole will, after ten or so times of doing it, start to rot away the root and kill it for good.  Nothing else works except for digging up the roots entirely (a lot of very difficult and tiring work).

The other really bad one in my neighborhood is bindweed.  It's pretty and I initially liked it because it was something green in my lawn that would live with no water and produce flowers, but it has this nasty habit of climbing up everything and being a pain in the neck to remove.  And they outgrow and outcompete everything in my garden beds.  I'm sorta kinda okay with them in my lawn well away from the garden beds, mostly because it's too much work to remove them all, but they're not welcome anywhere near where my food plants are going to be.

Quackgrass, dandelions, salsify, amaranth, purslane, clover, etc., I actively like as a part of my lawn.  I just don't like it when they travel into my garden beds.


 
pollinator
Posts: 374
Location: Ban Mak Ya Thailand Zone 11-12
122
forest garden fish plumbing chicken pig
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
"Invasive" has many meanings,

I wouldn't mind invasive veggies that are spreading by their root systems or suckers.
For them is always a way to contain them.
If you have a pond with a little island where you plant them, will tame those species.
You just dig a barrier in the ground (non clumping edible Bamboo for example) or keep them in pots would be other ways to keep them at bay.

If they are producing seeds that can fly for miles or birds can spread them with their droppings is a complete different story.
The same counts for plants that grow fast like the Kudzu vine (a feet a day) and will root wherever they touch the ground.  
These I sure would avoid in my garden..
 
Posts: 18
Location: Taranaki, New Zealand
7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It's such a good question for thinking about how our affinity for something changes the way we view it.

My work is in predator control.  All of these predators were brought in multiple times by multiple people to do a specific job or provide a resource and then, of course, got out of control.  Few if any of these predators will ever be as bad as the cat whose free ranging is such a part of the culture here there's no legal provisions for, say, owner responsibility for damage cats may cause to other properties the same way there is about dogs and any other animal.  If you propose keeping cats inside to mitigate the damage they do they'll tell you how cruel it is.  If you talk about how many of our natives they kill for fun/instinct they say "not mine, it only brings in mice or rabbits".

We certainly have our fair share of "capital I" Invasive plants - I will forever have to stay vigilant about blackberry and bindweed and, after two years, am only just starting to get the buttercup under control.  

We also have a long list of the other kind invasives, those that come up voluntarily, but if I spent an hour worrying about them I could have them all gone from our acre - Japanese walnut, thistles, ragweed, tasmanian blackwood.

Then of course all the things that are invasive that we don't think of in that context (like cats) - most if not all of our grasses - or the species they came up with fuzzier words for because when in control they make up a significant part of our economy - "wilding" pines...

You've already decided against the species you were looking at, and it sounds like for good reason.  For me, my example is onion weed which I brought into our place by the kilo a couple of months ago.  I've got a hate-hate relationship with growing alliums so some that take care of themselves are ideal.  Plus, because we're so wet and our temperature so moderate we've got a lot of undesirable fungi that are quite fond of our stone fruit in particular.  Instead of remembering to buy and bring in garlic to turn into a foliar spray, the onion weed is both the nudge and the sulphur containing resource to handle that problem.  I'll watch them for the first couple of years and start pulling them out quickly if they're gaining too much ground.  But, in typing that, I realize I need to define what "too much ground" actually means.

Sooner or latter I'll try starting some ramps and putting them under the Japanese walnut - about a 2sqm section on our boundary where we have something close to a deciduous forest floor.  If I could find other "weedy" alliums that weren't so persnickety about their personal space I'd get them in here in a heartbeat - especially if they offered greater seasonal coverage since both onion weed and ramps are late winter/early spring crops.

I'll defo keep a more watchful eye on the onion weed because of this thread.  Cheers for that.
 
pollinator
Posts: 854
Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
157
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Most invasives are great. However, they either need active management, or succession designed into the system.

Unfortunately most ecological designs attempt to freeze the natural progression, and so the only option is active management.

You may have noticed that people are inherently lazy and don't really like having to constantly maintain a system they put so much work into getting up and running.

Invasive species don't really have a beneficial function in a design where natural succession is suspended because they are drivers of this process. In design systems where succession is desired, then their application is appropriate and even desirable.

 
pioneer
Posts: 452
Location: Russia, ~250m altitude, zone 5a, Moscow oblast, in the greater Sergeiv Posad reigon.
62
kids hugelkultur purity forest garden foraging trees chicken earthworks medical herbs rocket stoves homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
To be perfectly honest, I'd go for it. These are early succession plants, and people often get freaked out because they're good at spreading. I know this is an unpopular opinion, but I don't think that there's any ecological damage of significance to be had from introducing plants like the ones you mentioned, which fulfill good ecological functions.
 
Posts: 1637
Location: Fennville MI
78
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm going to resist the urge to address "invasive species" and only speak to the item in the OP with which I have direct experience.

Autumn Olive exists on our site. Not as an overwhelming force, but as a struggling survivor hanging on for dear life at the fringes. Our site is woodland. The autumn olive can only survive along the roadside, where there's enough sun for it.

As I have been clearing space for us to build our house, I've also created some additional areas where it might be able to survive, and where its role as a nitrogen fixer has value for us. I've got absolutely no problem with using it in this area as a productive ecosystem service provider.  It has zero chance of "invading" the surrounding woodland.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/cards
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic