Pennsylvania decided to ban three invasive plants

Pennsylvania decided to ban three invasive plants

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Moderation is the key to success in many situations. When we overeat, problems can arise.

One example is invasive plants in Pennsylvania. Nurseries, landscapers and homeowners are looking for unique and colorful ways to create attractive flower beds and grass areas.

Unfortunately, invasive species have literally grown to become a problem in many wilderness areas. Plants spread through their seeds and berries to unwelcome places. Some of these plants are large, shady plants that are more welcome and are native to forested areas.

In part to address the problem, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture added ravenna, bright buckthorn, and common buckthorn to its list of noxious weeds — plants that cannot be legally sold or grown in the state.

The department reports that non-native plants have spread aggressively in wooded areas and fields, crowding out beneficial plants and disrupting local ecosystems. The ban on sales and cultivation will come into effect on April 5. Implementation will be carried out in stages over the next year.

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“Pennsylvania is working to repair the damage done by plants that were introduced to our landscapes decades ago without foresight into how they harm our environment and our food supply,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said in a news release. “Banning the sale of invasive plants and educating homeowners and consumers about growing native species today is vital to protecting our environment, our food supply, and our economy tomorrow.”

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If you already have these plants, the state would like you to consider removing them and/or replacing them with native alternatives.

If you are not sure what these plants look like, the Agriculture Department provides you with the following descriptions.

Ravenna grass, also known as hardy pampas grass, is a 6-foot-tall perennial ornamental grass commonly sold at nurseries. Their unnatural plumes allow them to spread quickly, suffocating native plants and regrow them easily. The administration will begin enforcing the ban on its commercial sale in September.

Glossy buckthorn is a small tree or shrub whose fruit is eaten by birds and spreads the plant. It spreads aggressively in wetlands, suffocating local plant and animal habitats. It has a commercially available cultivar called rhamnus Fine Line.

The administration has established an exemption procedure for breeders who own the rights to varieties that have been researched and proven sterile, and will consider exempting these varieties from the ban. The administration will begin enforcing the ban on bright buckthorn sales in 2023.

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Common buckthorn is a deciduous tree up to 22 feet tall, with dark green leaves and fruits. They form a dense forest, suffocating local ecosystems. It is not sold commercially.

Dealers with questions about these plants can contact

With spring just around the corner, it’s time to think about how you want to landscape your gardens and be aware of the many types of invasive plants that are being sold. Check with a commercial nursery or your local Pennsylvania Cooperative Extension agent to make sure you are doing what is right for your home and neighborhood.

Brian Wiebke is an outdoors columnist for the USA TODAY Network’s sites in Pennsylvania. Contact him at and sign up for the Go Outdoors PA weekly newsletter via email on the home page of your website under your login name. Follow him on social media @whipkeyoutdoors.

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