22 Jan All About Arizona’s Invasive Plants
Invasive plants are non-native species that enter a new environment and threaten the local ecosystem. There are several common invasive plants in Southern Arizona that propagate quickly and take space, sun, water, and nutrients away from local specimens.
How Do Invasive Plants Arrive?
Humans may transplant non-native plants unknowingly. We can transport seeds on our clothing while travelling or seeds can attach to our cars and then spread hundreds of miles away. Birds and wind can also spread seeds. When land is developed and landscaped using outside plants, this can also lead to the spread of an invasive species.
Why Are Invasive Plants Bad?
Invasive plants can take over a garden or open land and kill the native plants, which local wildlife feed on. This change in the plant population can have devastating effects on the entire ecosystem in deserts, grasslands, forests, and riparian areas. In Southern Arizona, many invasive weeds and grasses also increase the risk of wild fires by providing dry fuel for fires to spread.
Below we’ll take a look at two of the most common and threatening invasive plants in Arizona:
Buffelgrass: This grass spreads rapidly and grows in dense thickets, crowding out other important species like the saguaro cactus. When local plants get displaced by bufflegrass, nearby wildlife lose some of their important food sources. Dry, dense bufflegrass also fuels wildfires and helps fires spread into delicate ecosystems. Find out more about this plant from the local not-for-profit organization dedicated to eradicating buffelgrass.
Tamarisk: This tree may look pretty, with its wispy green leaves and pink flowers, but it is a threat to the local environment. Tamarisk, or salt cedar, requires a lot of water and threatens the water supply for native plants. Moreover, Tamarisk does not provide nourishment to any native animals. The only saving grace of this invasive species is its appeal to the endangered Southwestern Willow Flycatcher as a place for nesting.
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