Invasive plants are quite the topic of conversation and concern among botanists and horticulturists across the country. So much so that through a 2017 Farm Bill grant, four botanic gardens across the nation participated in a trial to evaluate a total of 200 plants for their invasiveness. These gardens used a tool and database called PRE™, which stands for Plant Risk Evaluator. PRE is a tool for determining a plant’s potential for becoming invasive in any specific region. BRIT and the Fort Worth Botanic Garden collaborated to evaluate 50 plant species in Texas.
Invasive plants are non-native plants that can spread on their own and can cause or are likely to cause environmental and/or economic harm. A high percentage of invasive plants in the U.S. are of horticultural origin. Many of these invaders were introduced decades ago as ornamental landscape plants or as plants that served a particular purpose, such as to control erosion, to conserve water, or to grow quickly. No one could have imagined the costly damage that invasive plants would cause and the threat they would be to native species. Today we know better because we understand the adverse impacts invasive plants can have on wild lands, waterways, native species, and taxpayers’ wallets. We also benefit from recent advances in plant screening technology that can predict plant behavior in a given region. The PRE tool allows for highly accurate (95%) predictions specifically tailored to horticultural plants. PRE is a 20-question, plant risk assessment tool as well as an online platform and database enabling those involved in non-native, terrestrial plant production to know before they grow if a plant poses a potential regional invasive risk. Visit the PRE website (https://pre.ice/ucdavis.edu/) to explore the database already compiled on certain plants.
At the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, Zach Gomez collaborated with BRIT by using the PRE tool to predict or to confirm the invasiveness of certain plants within the botanic garden. He presented his findings at the August 2017 Texas Nursery and Landscape Association convention in Dallas as well as at the annual gathering of the Texas Association of Botanic Gardens and Arboreta ( TABGA) in February 2018 in Weatherford.
To view, the 2017 species scores click HERE.