I’m talking about the plant (Gypsophila paniculata), not actual babies, BTW.
I was recently reminded that a lot of folks don’t know that Baby’s Breath is a nasty, invasive plant in the US. Oddly enough, it was because I bought soap. They make this statement on their package:
“our hypo-allergenic bar soap …comes in 100% post consumer recycled packaging imbedded [sic] with Baby’s Breath seeds. Plant the carton in soil, water and watch your plants grow.”
Post consumer packaging–Yay!
But the bit about planting Baby’s Breath–I think I can channel Kirk here for a minute: “NOOOOOOO!”
Please, do not do that.
This is what happens when people think about being green, but don’t think things all the way through.
Baby’s Breath is a plant originally from Siberia and Eastern Europe. It is changing Michigan’s dune ecosystem in destructive ways. Because it has a very deep taproot (up to 12 feet!!), it stabilizes sand dunes and prevents them from the natural ebb and flow as seasons and storms pass. This taproot also lets the plants outcompete native plants, many of which have disappeared from our dunes.
So: pretty and EVIL.
A wonderful resource on finding good (i.e, well-behaved native plants) for your garden is at PlantWise. They even have an “invasive translator” that provides alternative suggestions to invasive non-native garden plants. Check it out!
More info about the Great Lakes Barrens Ecosystem.
Oh, and if you’d like to contact Pure & Natural Soaps and tell them to STOP distributing invasive weed seed…they are apparently owned by Dial. Their contact phone number is listed on the package as 1-877-711-8188.
I have always loved Michael Perry’s great line from Truck:
“Seed catalogs are responsible for more unfulfilled fantasies than Enron and Playboy combined.”
Before you do any ordering, why not check out this Lepidopteran Ornamental Host Plant Guide!
“Landscaping paradigms have promoted the use of alien ornamentals over native plants with ornamental value for over a century. The bias toward landscaping with alien ornamentals has been so complete that the first trophic level in suburban/urban ecosystems throughout U.S. is now dominated by plant species that evolved elsewhere….
The following list is our attempt to categorize native and alien plant genera in terms of their ability to support insect herbivores…. We did this by ranking all native plant genera (woody and herbaceous) in terms of the number of Lepidoptera species recorded using them as host plants. Our hope is that this ranking will be used as one of the criteria for plant selections in managed and unmanaged landscapes by restoration ecologists, landscape architects and designers, land managers, and homeowners.”
There are a *lot* of invasive insects out there, and a new record for the Giant Resin Bee was just submitted for Kansas. It is pretty big (about 1 inch in length/24mm), and was first discovered in North Carolina in 1994. It’s a solitary Asian bee, and it isn’t known quite how it arrived in the Eastern US.
Like most of the leaf-cutting bees, it is a solitary bee that is a cavity nester, and will only sting when grabbed or squished.
For now, it doesn’t seem to be having much of an impact on native bee populations, other than competing for nesting spaces and food. Mostly, it seems like people just don’t have enough information to say if it’s having an impact.
Are you sensing a “we don’t know” theme here?
BTW, the report of the bee is published in a new online, open-access journal called ZooKeys, which hopes to speed up and make more available taxonomic info:
“Publishing taxonomic and systematics studies in the digital era faces major challenges and requires new approaches, many of which are currently stimulating spirited discussions amongst taxonomists and systematists. New amendments to the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature are expected to regulate electronic publishing of new taxa and create a standard form for their registration (ZooBank). Responding to a perceived need, this editorial announces establishment of ZooKeys – a new online and print journal in zoological taxonomy and systematics, which aims to quickly respond and adapt to the newest developments in taxonomic publishing.”
Image from Johnny N. Dell, Bugwood.org
And from Milwaukee, some unhappy insect news:
Mick Skwarok, a spokesman for the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, also said the agency will order a quarantine of Ozaukee County, probably Washington County and potentially other counties before the end of the week as a first step in trying to stop the invasive pest.
The agency is meeting with the U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service on the quarantine, a tactic used by other states when outbreaks have occurred.
About 750 million trees are at risk in Wisconsin.
Pretty much everything you would want to know about EAB can be found at the Emerald Ash Borer portal.