The original 'Grow Me Instead' guide developed by the Nursery & Garden Industry NSW & ACT (NGINA) has now been extended as a national program by the Nursery & Garden Industry Australia (NGIA), in partnership with the Federal Government, to reduce the numbers and impact of invasive plants in Australia.
'An environmentally invasive plant' is just another term for a weed. Quite simply, a weed is any plant that poses a threat to the environment, adversely impacts human or animal health, or causes crop or stock losses. For most gardeners, many of the characteristics we most desire in garden plants are the same as those that make them weedy: i.e. plants that are fast growing and disease resilient and those which reproduce easily by the distribution of seeds or plant parts.
A modern definition of a weed is "a plant that requires some form of action to reduce its effect on the economy, the environment, human health and amenity".
Many of the plants that are now considered to be 'environmental weeds' were introduced by early settlers, or by gardeners and farmers who had little or no knowledge of their future impact on the native environment. It is only in recent years that this threat has become apparent.
Weediness is not confined to introductions from overseas. Some Australian native plants introduced from other regions may impact adversely on the natural environment. Non-indigenous (i.e. not local) species may invade and displace species natural to that area or they may cross pollinate to produce new species which may in time alter regional biodiversity. Cootamundra Wattle (Acacia baileyana) is a good example of the former, while many eucalypts are known to interbreed.
Introduced species may sometimes be controlled in a foreign climate by various vectors such as small animals, insects, diseases or climatic conditions such as frost, thus reducing potential invasiveness.
To gardeners, farmers or botanists, the term 'weed' may mean different things. Pasture weeds reduce the productivity of agricultural land and may also have negative effects on human and animal health. Environmental weeds cause various problems in natural areas and ecosystems and the cost of control for both farmers and government is estimated at billions of dollars per annum.
The purpose of this Grow Me Instead website...
is to identify common garden plants that have now become environmental weeds in your local area, and to suggest better, alternative plants that benefit garden diversity while lessening their potential to become weeds of the future.
Apart from nurseries, garden centres or the resources of the local botanic gardens, valuable information may be provided by the Natural Resource Management Boards or you may wish to check out their websites. Here you will find lists of declared weeds for the local area and contact details should you need further information regarding invasive plant identification and approved methods of disposal.
It is important to reduce the spread of environmental weeds because...
better and more effective management of invasive plants will help to reduce the high cost of chemical control, and to reduce the amount of time and energy lost in management of weeds in productive land for food crops, grazing land, cut flowers and forestry. Weed management in public spaces and on natural heritage land is costly, laborious and at times seems overwhelming.