By Alan Shope, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -
As those with and without green thumbs tend their landscaping, experts warn that some trees and shrubs that look pretty are actually dangerous to wildlife and our ecosystem.
The Missouri Department of Conservation is asking residents to do a little research before they plant.
"We are looking at a highly infested wild place," said Linda Lehrbaum, manager for Kansas City Wildlands, a volunteer program to improve natural habitats on public land. She and her teams spend thousands of hours each year removing dense and thorny invasive plants.
Invasive plants like the calorie pear, shrub honeysuckle, the tree of heaven and the Bradford pear have become a big problem, literally and figuratively. Beautiful trees that were brought in for landscaping in the 1960s are now suffocating natural plants.
Birds help spread the invasive plant by depositing "them with their fertilizer package in the forest," Lehrbaum said. And like kudzu, they grow.
"It's not good for wildlife," she said. "It's not good as erosion control."
The state is asking developers, residents and others not to plant the Bradford pear, which are pretty but damage the native ecosystems.
"Nothing can regenerate so we don't have new trees growing, we don't have the native forest," Wendy Sangster, an urban forester, said.
Area governments are spending more than $1 million annually to try and clear out the plants and trees.
You are asked to plant these instead: American beautyberry, American hazelnut, button bush, flowering dogwood and red buckeye.
"There are animals and insects that depend on certain plants and if we don't have them they are not going to survive," Sangster said.
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