If you stop and take a look around at the splendor that is Mother Nature, you can quickly become humbled to know that many of the trees and plants that make up much of the wild space here in the Ottawa area were here long before we were.

The fact of the matter is, many of these plants (we’re looking at you, Maple trees) we here before the point of European contact. The same goes for native grasses, shrubs and other plants that call our beautiful country home.

As time progressed, our European ancestors (and others that followed) brought plants with them from their homeland. While seemingly harmless on the surface, human history has taught us quite a few lessons regarding the risks associated with this type of import practices.

Fast forward to present day and our insects of all shapes and sizes, our diverse wildlife, birds, and yes, humans, all depend on these natural environments in one way or another – primarily those of a native descent.

While there are a handful of non-native plants that have proven to be quite beneficial to our landscape, there are many more that have proven to be harmful.

 

How Harmful?

On the surface, non-native grasses and ornamental plants seem harmless. In fact, for many of us, we use them to dress up our homes and outdoor spaces – for which they do a fantastic job.

The harmfulness of these types of plants typically comes as a by-product. Given that many of the non-native species we have growing around us today do not do as good of a job at supporting native insects and wildlife, we see population levels taper off over time.

Some of these plants also require heavy pesticide and chemical use to protect them from insects and other factors that might otherwise harm them or simply have them become less desirable by homeowners and community developers.

The truth is, with every new housing development comes massive clear-cutting practices, ultimately wiping out the natural environment. While there is mandatory replanting required, oftentimes much of what was wiped out is replaced with non-native and invasive species.  And so, continues the vicious cycle.