Thursday, March 31, 2011

Weed Out Invasive Missouri Trees

Ozark National Park - Vintage Photo
The state of Missouri may have one of the best conservation departments in the country, but not even these professionals can completely eradicate the threat of invasive trees by themselves. Preserving the thousands of spectacular Midwest conservation areas requires the utmost cooperation between wildlife officials and Missouri citizens, starting with the most important piece of the puzzle: homeowners.

As buds begin to break open this spring, be on the lookout for one of many detrimental invasive species that could pop up in your yard. Undesirable seeds can be carried from miles around, and could eventually end up in one of Missouri’s prized conservation areas where the MDC is involved with an expensive and never-ending battle against invasives that threaten the biodiversity of our state.

Callery Pear

The callery pear remains one of the most popular ornamental trees in Missouri despite the fact that they spread like wildfire. These highly tolerant plants take over and replace native varieties because they have no natural checks and balances within the ecosystem. Once thought to be sterile, callery pears actually crossbreed with similar varieties to create thorny, unattractive nuisances that require heavy tree maintenance.

Amur Maple and Norway Maple

The Amur and Norway maple is another set of invasive species that can thank unknowing homeowners for their devastating spread. Both are loved for their hardy nature and ornamental properties, but these trees are known as invasive in much of the Midwest. The Norway maple is especially malicious: these trees actually secrete a chemical that kills undergrowth, resulting in barren and muddy forest floors. Homeowners who plant these trees run the risk of pulling up new sprouts for years to come – the same can unfortunately be said for the entire neighborhood.

Missouri is truly blessed with a spectacular variety of native specie that should not be taken for granted. Most invasive species have not even documented yet: the public rarely recognizes them until a major outbreak has occurred, when it is already too late. Certified arborists and local service professionals should be able to identify and remove any “pest trees” on your property – a priceless step toward conserving Missouri wildlife.

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