Every region of the country has invasive plants that present their own particular problems. When my wife and I moved to a state in the Deep South shortly after we married, we encountered Kudzu for the first time. Kudzu was introduced from Japan into the United States in the nineteenth century and was promoted as a forage crop and an ornamental plant. In the 1930s, farmers in the southeastern United States were encouraged to plant Kudzu to reduce soil erosion. The plant wasn’t considered a pest weed until 1953, and now this invasive swallows up houses if not kept in check. Tumbleweed, the plant so associated with desolate Western landscapes in movies, is an invasive as well, probably having arrived in the United States in seed shipments. Other invasive plants such as Russian Olive and Tamarisk (salt cedar) were purposely introduced to the United States and have become severe problems along many waterways in the western part of the country. In the Northwest, we have English Ivy as well as Scotch Broom to contend with. It is probably not news that no section of the country is free from invasive plants.
Given the pervasiveness of invasives, why even discuss them here? Although most invasives will never be eradicated from environments where they can thrive and crowd out native plants, we can do things to lessen their spread to sensitive areas. Wilderness Volunteers participants join our 50 or so trips each year and come from all over the country to do so. Unwittingly, many of these well-meaning participants may be helping spread invasives or introducing plants from their region of the country into regions where these plants are unknown. The most common way this happens is through seed dispersal, and we humans often become the vehicles for this dispersal.
What can you do as an individual? The simplest thing you can do is check your boots before leaving home for that camping or backpacking trip and make sure the soles are clean. Do the same just prior to leaving your camping/backpacking location to return home. Check your clothing as well. Many seeds can easily attach themselves to clothing or even get into pockets. If you can’t effectively clean your boots and clothing prior to heading home after a trip and have to wait until you get home to do so, there are still ways to prevent seeds from potentially germinating in a new environment. Clean boots and clothing somewhere where the soil and plant matter can be contained; then soak the plant matter in bleach before disposing of it. As volunteers who often enter sensitive wilderness areas, we don’t want to be unsuspecting agents who introduce non-native plants to an area whether it be that wilderness area or our own home territory. Below are some links to sites with more detailed information.
PASTA AND GARBANZO BEAN STEW
2 cups crushed tomatoes with added puree
4 garlic cloves
3-4 tablespoons fresh or dried rosemary
8 cups vegetable broth (use 4 Knorr Vegetarian Bouillon cubes in water)
4 15-16 oz. cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
12 oz. Fettuccine in one inch pieces
Heat oil in large pan. Add tomatoes, garlic, and rosemary. Simmer 5 minutes. Add broth and garbanzo beans and stir to blend. Bring to boil and add the fettuccine. Simmer until pasta is tender. Season with salt and pepper. Add parmesan separately.