The concern surrounding the rapid spread of invasive plant species is one that is felt across the country.

Fortunately, most of the invasive plants causing serious harm in Canada will not survive in our northern climate. However, there are some destructive invasive plant species, right here in the Yukon, which deserve our attention.

An invasive plant is defined as any species of plant that is not native to a particular ecosystem which poses a negative impact on humans, animals and ecosystems.

According to the Yukon Invasive Species Council, “Yukon invasive species are mainly plants and can be found on agriculture land, along roads, in gardens, backyards and parks. Most invasive plants are found in disturbed habitats and we want to prevent their spread into pristine areas.”

There are numerous concerns regarding the negative impact upon these invasive species. These include the displacement of native plants, reduction of biodiversity, the alteration of wildlife habitat and the decreased use of productive land.

As plant lovers, we have a responsibility to choose wisely. Though some of these plants look like interesting ornamentals, they can actually be very harmful to the future of our ecosystem.

Take purple loosestrife as an example. Though this pretty purple ornamental plant offers great visual interest, it can cause serious damage to wetland areas. One single plant has the potential to produce an astonishing one to three million seeds per year.

As a gardener and activist, here’s how you can help:

  • Purchase non-invasive plants or native plants for your landscape.
  • Check wildflower seed packages for possible invasive plants.
  • If you come across invasive plants, remove the flowers, seed pods and berries to prevent spreading.
  • Wherever possible, also remove the plant itself.
  • Do not compost invasive plants or dispose of them in natural areas. They will return! Take them to the landfill.
  • Purchase soil that is sterilized and “weed-free”.
  • Educate your local garden centre as well as fellow gardeners should you spot an invasive plant species.