What are invasive plants?
According to the US Department of Agriculture, an invasive plant has one of two criteria. The first is that it is not native to the the ecosystem or environment. The second criteria is that the introduction of this species to the ecosystem or environment can cause harm to its surrounding plants.
I have found a few invasive species of Ohio in and around the Columbus area. Each are from different parts of Europe, Asia, South America, and others.
This first invasive species is dwarf honeysuckle. The scientific name is Lonicera xylosteum. This shrub originates from Eurasia and was spread to the US starting in Maine. An interesting fact about this plant is that it estimates about 1.2 million berries per plant annually. These berries are a food source for a variety of different bird species. This deciduous shrub can grow up to 10 feet tall and 12 feet wide. The leaf arrangement is opposite, and the leaf complexity is simple.
The next invasive species is Chinese Privet. Its scientific name is Ligustrum sinense. Given by its name it is pretty obvious that it originates in China and other areas near China in Asia. This is a highly invasive shrub and kills its surrounding shrubs and plants when cultivated. An interesting fact about this plant is that it is resistant to deer causing it damage. The leaf arrangement and complexity are opposite and entire respectively. In the pubescent stages of this plant, the stems can be hairy. If you think you found it or found something similar to this plant, DO NOT EAT THE FRUIT! Although it won’t kill you, it will have you in the bathroom and in your bed aching for up to 72 hours which would not be fun.
Next up is European Spindle, and its scientific name is Euonymus europaeus. This tree originates from parts of Europe and Asia. An interesting fact about this tree is that it was brought over to the US for sale and used for its wood to create spindles for wool. A nice identifying fact about this plant is that the fruits will persist into winter unlike many other plants. It can grow anywhere into upwards of 20 feet. The leaf arrangement is opposite.
Next is the Asiatic Dayflower whose scientific name is Commelina communis. This plant was introduced to America from East Asia. Something interesting about this flower is its blue pigment was an important factor in the famous “floating world.” The stems and leaves of this plant are hairless. The leaf arrangement is alternate and the plant itself does not grow taller than 3 feet.
This next plant is called Common Grape Vine. This scientific name is Vitis vinifera. This plant is native to Europe and Central Asia. This plant is responsible for the grapes you could commonly find in grocery stores. The leaf complexity and arrangement are simple and alternate respectively. The stems of the leaves carry a red tint to them.
Next is a plant called Spreading Cotoneaster. Its scientific name is Cotoneaster divaricatus. This species is native to Eastern Asia and was introduced to America as an ornamental plant. The flowers of this plant are highly attractive to bees and birds. This shrub does not have thorns, and its leaves are shiny. The leaves are slightly hairy underneath. The flowers that grow from this shrub appear in the spring and have a white or pink color.
Up next is Chine Rose. The scientific name for this beautiful flower is Rosa chinensis. It is native to Asia. An interesting fact about this plant is that it is used to make shoe polish. This flower can be spotted a large distance away because of its vibrant color. The plant does not grow that tall either.
Last, but certainly not least, is Common Buckthorn. The scientific name for this plant is Rhamnus cathartica. This shrub is native to parts of Europe and Western Asia. Its leaves and flowers contain a high amount of Nitrogen which negatively impacts the fungi and soil surrounding it. It has dark green simple leaves that are serrated. The leaf arrangement is alternate. This veins on the leaves are prominent, and the leaves bend back at the tip.
Appalachian Gametophyte, scientifically known as Vittaria appalchiana. This species is especially interesting because it exists exclusively as a gametophyte.
Fern gemmae are large in comparison to spores. Due to this, the gemmae cannot not be dispersed long distance using wind. Three ways that the gemmae can be dispersed over short distance is through wind, water, and possible animals. In 1995, Kimmerer and Young observed the gemmae being dispersed by slugs.
The observed limited dispersal capability of Appalachain Gametophyte is supported with the fact that the species cannot be found anywhere north of the glacial boundary. This plant is also not seen in disturbed areas within its range that contains a suitable environment. It only thrives in areas with similar living conditions. This comes down to the conclusion that the dispersal of a single sporophyte is responsible for the dispersal we see today. This also suggests that they are unable to produce mature, functioning sporophytes since before the last ice age.
The current populations of Appalachan Gametophyte cannot be sustained using a tropical sporophyte source. Appalachain Gametophyte is a hybrid plant with almost double the amount of DNA than a normal plant of its genus. Using a tropical sporophyte to sustain the population will not work because it would not produce mature functioning sporophytes in the Appalacaion Gametophyte plants. The explanation to the wide range of Appalachian Gametophyte populations has do with the fact of its strange dispersal. Because the gemmae are too large for long distance wind dispersal, there are other ways to disperse the gemmae short distance and make for more populations. As stated earlier, other methods of dispersal include water and animals. Dispersal through these means provides more opportunities for the Appalachian Gametophyte to create new populations.
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Taft, Dave. “The True Blue Asiatic Dayflower.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 20 Sept. 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/20/nyregion/the-true-blue-asiatic-dayflower.html.
“Vitis Vinifera.” NC State Extension, NC State University, https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/vitis-vinifera/.
“Watch List Species Highlight: European Spindle Tree (Euonymus Europaeus).” Vermont Invasives, The University of Vermont Extension, https://vtinvasives.org/news-events/news/watch-list-species-highlight-european-spindle-tree-euonymus-europaeus.