Preventing Invasive Plants at the Source

Each year, new invasive plants take deceptively alluring root in our Golden State. By displacing native plants and animals, increasing flood risk, and escalating fire danger, these leafy culprits rapidly pose threats to the homes of people and wildlife alike.

Fortunately, California has a strong champion against these pests in Sustainable Conservation’s PlantRight campaign. Each year, PlantRight grows smarter and stronger to stop invasive plants in their tracks. In 2015, our tenacious tendrils of change enlisted researchers, growers, and retailers to move yet another step ahead of problem plants.

Our Plant Risk Evaluation – or PRE – tool gives growers and distributors the power to know before they grow, and make even smarter business decisions that keep troublesome specimens out of regions where they may seed new invasions.

By not only removing these plants from store shelves, but preventing them from appearing on those shelves in the first place, we’re ensuring California’s native array of flora and fauna stick around for generations to come.

It may surprise you that nearly 50% of all known invasive plants are of horticultural origin. That means, in part, that certain seedlings innocently planted in home gardens and public spaces jumped the proverbial fence to wreak havoc on the wild landscapes beyond our back yards and highway medians. While the vast majority of plants sold at our local nurseries play nicely with their native, botanical neighbors, some can, and do, damage the environment.

Collaborating with folks at all points along the nursery supply chain is key to solving this costly, caustic problem. As California taxpayers, we share the over $80 million annual burden of removing horticultural pests from our wildlands!

With science on our side, we’re working to shrink that number. We have assembled a coalition of nationally recognized horticultural professionals to sharpen our PRE deployment strategy, enhance the tool’s ease of use, and encourage industry-wide adoption. Now in its beta phase, the PRE database – built by UC Davis’ Dave Waetjen, and hosted at Agricultural Sustainability Institute – continually incorporates user feedback to provide the most valuable resource possible.

As more growers, distributors, and plant marketers make PRE part of their business best practices, preservation benefits for our natural landscapes blossom.

Knowledge is power. Thanks to the PRE tool, businesses and nursery customers can now join forces to keep leafy invaders at bay – and welcome many gorgeous, California-friendly plants into our gardens instead.

With our industry partners, we’re driving a market shift that will allow our Golden State wildlife, businesses, and communities to thrive in harmony.