May 2015: Invasive Species

May 2015 library profile:

Invasive species


"We may infer from these facts what havoc the introduction of any new beast of prey must cause in a country, before the instincts of the aborigines become adapted to the stranger's craft or power."

~Charles Darwin, Journal of Researches, 1839



May is Invasive Species Awareness Month in Illinois! The Morton Arboretum and the Sterling Morton Library can provide you with the resources and tools you need to both identify invasive species and help your community manage them. Emerald Ash Borer (pictured at right) is causing some serious damage to our ash trees, but it's not just bugs we have to worry about. Invasive plant species can take root in a plant community and elbow out native counterparts, which can cause a decrease in species diversity as well as affect local wildlife populations. Visit the Sterling Morton Library to read up on the various forms and behaviors exhibited by invasive species, learn how they spread, and take a look at the Illinois Invasive Species Awareness Month website to find out what's happening to raise awareness about the effects of invasive species across the state!



"At least two-thirds of the imported plants now growing wild in the United States, Britain, Scandinavia, and Australia were imported deliberately, most for gardens. Among woody plant invaders in the United States, 82 percent have a background as landscape plants. Of the top eighty-four weeds of natural areas in South Africa, the majority were introduced as ornamentals... Likewise, most invasive waterweeds - water hyacinth, salvinia, Eurasian watermilfoil, hydrilla, Brazilian elodea, and even the turf-forming seaweed caulerpa - have been widely sold to decorate water gardens and oxygenate aquariums throughout the world... Invasive plants such as kudzu, multiflora roses, and Russian olive trees were originally introduced into the United States as ornamentals but were then widely dispersed by what is now the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NCRS) to prevent soil erosion. The service, for instance, distributed 85 millions cuttings of kudzu to southern farmers and paid them a bonus per acre to plant their fields with them. In New Zealand, seeds of the North American lodgepole pine were sown over native grasslands and shrublands by helicopter in the name of soil stabilization, and imported willows were planted to stabilize riverbanks. Both the willows and pines are now regarded as major invaders... At least seven of the twenty-two exotic plant species that the NRCS promoted during the 1980s were potentially invasive."

~from A Plague of Rats and Rubbervines by Yvonne Baskin, p.119, 121


Click here to learn about Illinois Invasive Species Awareness Month!

Find news articles about the invasive species that are affecting Illinois landscapes, information and photos about species to be concerned about, and what you can do to help curb the spread of invasive plants and insects in your own activities. If you'd like to get involved on a community level, this website has everything you need from a schedule of volunteer events in your area to educational materials, event and media leader kits, and useful links to further resources.


Arboretum resource pages

Help with pests from the Plant Clinic: Looking for more information on the pests that may be messing with your plants? The Plant Clinic has the information!

The Plant Health Care Report: Check out these reports to get information on growing days, seasonal damage, and pests and diseases to watch for.

The Northern Illinois Tree Selector can help you select the perfect non-invasive tree for your yard by soil content, amount of sunlight, and your own preferences for tree characteristics!


Library resources

Invasive species in a globalized world : ecological, social, and legal perspectives on policy edited by Reuben P. Keller, 2015.

A Plague of Rats and Rubbervines: The Growing Threat of Species Invasions by Yvonne Baskin, 2002

Species Invasions: Insights into Ecology, Evolution, and Biogeography by Dov F. Sax et al, 2005

Assessment and Management of Plant Invasions by James O. Luken and John W. Theiret, 1997

American Perceptions of Immigrant and Invasive Species: Strangers on the Land by Peter Coates, 2006

Biological Invasion: A Global Perspective by J.A. Drake et al, 1989

Hemlock: A Forest Giant on the Edge by David R. Foster, 2014

Insect Outbreaks by Pedro Barbosa and Jack C. Schultz, 1988

Restoration Ecology by Sigurdur Greipsson, 2011


Reader's advisory

If you are interested in learning more about plant and animal habitat interactions, take a look through our collections on ecology and urban ecosystems. Also check out our collections on plant conservation.


Click here to see previous Monthly Library Profiles!