Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Credit SS 2.1, prerequisite, Invasive plants

No invasive plant species shall be integrated into the landscape.

An invasive plant is a non-native species that was introduced into a habitat, usually by humans, and causes ecological or economic problems. Not all exotic or non-native species are harmful; some can even be beneficial, but it is important to not place something into an area that might potentially harm it later. Personally, I prefer local species anyway because they last longer in their own habitat and require less maintenance.

If you are a landscape architect, you might already have a list of local invasive species on-hand. But, I’m trying to do this like an everyday person, so as part of this LEED credit, I need to create my own invasive species list to add to the construction specifications.

LEED recommends contacting the Agricultural Cooperative Extension Service to find a list of invasive species. While this might work well for other regions, I came up with very little helpful information for Minnesota by using this suggestion. For Minnesota, this deals with specifically agricultural invasive species only and does not address the multilayer natural habitat of our lakes and rivers, forests, and prairies. Thankfully, we do have other great resources elsewhere.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources publishes great anotated information on invasive species, for both terrestrial and aquatic species, and they have a huge comprehensive invasive species list that covers agriculture, woodlands, and water. They even have an invasive species program, which not only deals with plants, but also wildlife and insect invasive species. I was surprised to find Queen Anne's Lace on the invasive species list; I see it grow in the wild so often I had assumed it was local. Now I understand why there are so many.

Did you know that it is against the law to introduce certain plants into the wild? For Minnesota, the following plants are prohibited:

African oxygen weed (Lagarosiphon major)
aquarium watermoss or giant salvinia (Salvinia molesta)
Australian stone crop (Crassula helmsii)
curly-leaf pondweed (Potamogeton crispus)
Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum)
European frog-bit (Hydrocharis morsus-ranae)
flowering rush (Butomus umbellatus)
hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata)
Indian swampweed (Hygrophila polysperma)
purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria, Lythrum virgatum, or any variety, hybrid, or cultivar thereof)
water aloe or water soldiers (Stratiotes aloides)
water chestnut (Trapa natans)

The following are legal and regulated; they can be purchased, carried, and transported, but not introduced into any habitat in Minnesota:

Carolina fanwort or fanwort (Cabomba caroliniana)
nonnative waterlilies (Nymphaea spp.)
parrot's feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum)
yellow iris or yellow flag (Iris pseudacoris)

The Greenbush project specifications for landscaping have not yet been completely written out but the invasive species list has now been written, assuring that our project is taking another step in the right direction toward having a small impact on the site. When choosing our landscaping, we will refer to this list.

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