In which Carrie’s youngest cousin raises awareness of invasive species prevalent in Oregon, the north American continent and beyond, while demonstrating strength of character and academic honesty in research and writing…
Guest Post: Sarah
Himalayan Blackberry, English Ivy, Morning Glory, and Scotch Broom all have one thing in common, they are all invasive species. They were all brought here; Himalayan Blackberry was introduced to America from Europe but is from India. English Ivy came from England, Morning Glory came from China, and Scotch Broom came from Scotland. They all take over environments in the Pacific Northwest. Himalayan Blackberry grows in thick hedges that choke out other species. English Ivy is a vine that climbs up trees and eventually kills them. Morning Glory is also a vine, but one that covers the ground and chokes out plants living there. Scotch Broom creates thick hedges that choke out other plants. These three species are considered invasive by all three definitions.
The three definitions include a small, restrictive definition, one definition that is sometimes too broad, and one that is somewhere in between. The first and very restrictive definition says that only non-native species that take over an environment are considered invasive.
The second definition expands the first to include native species that take over the environment. This is the one that I like the most. This is because a native species can still take over an environment if the things that eat it start to disappear.
The third definition also expands the first to include all non-native species. This definition is often too broad. For example, the common goldfish; though outside its native environment, it rarely causes harm to its new environment.
The first example of an invasive species is Himalayan Blackberry. It was brought here because of its big, juicy berries. People tried to keep it contained but soon birds started eating the berries and spreading the Himalayan Blackberry seeds. Before long it was way out of control. This plant has huge thorns and pink-red stems.
A second invasive species is English Ivy. It climbs up trees, fences, or just about anything else. It has dark green leaves and was often planted next to roads before people knew it was invasive. It was brought here from England as an ornamental plant. One thing I didn’t learn for quite some time about the plant is that once it gets to the top of the tree it flowers and creates a fruit.
Morning Glory, a third invasive plant, is still found in plant stores today. When it was brought from China, its main use was for its seeds medical uses. The most common Morning Glory has an indigo flower and light green leaves. It is often found in gardens.
Scotch Broom has bright yellow flowers and needle-like structures rather than leaves. It is often found next to roads. It also has some nifty adaptations. For example, its seeds can stay dormant underground for fifty years, its seeds can travel on cars, and when the plant sprayed while it is blooming, the poison will go the blooms and the plant will live.
There are also invasive species in the kingdom animalia (the kingdom that all animals are in) these include Zebra Mussels and one we would never admit, humans. Zebra Mussels came on the bottom of the ships coming to the west coast. They can be found in the Columbia River.
We only qualify an invasive species by one definition, but we sure do take over environments. We have left very little of the native landscape alone. Not to mention the fact that we brought over most of the invasive species that are in America today.
There are three definitions for invasive species and five examples of invasive species that qualify under all definitions are Zebra Mussels, Scotch Broom, Morning Glory, and English Ivy. According to one definition we are even considered invasive ourselves.
(Author Biography: Sarah is a budding Naturalist with unique talents relating to identifying plants, observing soil and rock differences, and empathizing with the myriad of animal life around her. She is a sixth grader who enjoys reading, glassblowing, crossing the creek over logs, softball, basketball, choir, going to summer camps, and spending time with her family. She does not enjoy writing, but her cousin notices how much she is improving every day and enjoys reading her thoughts any chance she gets. )