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Environment

Plant native plants. That's the message from a survey showing native plants are overrun by invasive species

Denis Conover.jpeg
Michael Miller
/
UC
UC biology professor Denis Conover said many nonnative and invasive plants spreading in woods were planted as ornamentals

Every 100 years, Cincinnati botanists survey the plant landscape. The results show nonnative invasive species are thriving, and that means many native plants are not.

University of Cincinnati Biology Professor Denis Conover and his co-author Robert Bergstein report invasive species are on the rise and choking out many native plants in Southwest Ohio.

Their report was published this month and is the third 100-year plant study for Cincinnati. Thomas Lea did one between 1834 and 1844 and Lucy Braun retraced Lea’s path, doing a second survey in 1934, as WVXU reported last year.

Lea found bogs, ponds and several wetlands where the associated flora is gone from Cincinnati now.

Braun saw the beginnings of nonnative plants horticulturists had introduced from Europe and Asia as ornamentals. Those plants have spread, thanks to birds and other wildlife who eat them. Conover has been concerned for years, and WVXU went with him on another hike in 2020. He easily found one of the main culprits — Amer honeysuckle in Burnet Woods.

For his study, Conover has been traveling to undisturbed areas in Spring Grove Cemetery, along the Mill Creek and county parks. He’s found plenty of nonnative plants.

Problem plants

  • Amur honeysuckle
  • English ivy
  • Callery pear trees
  • Winter creeper
  • White mulberry
  • Multiflora rose

One way to help is to plant only native species in your yard. Another way is for nature preserves to remove invasive plants. He says the Bender Mountain Preserve in Delhi Township does a great job.

What you should plant

  • Ohio prairie plants
  • Black-eyed Susan
  • Bee balm
  • Purple cone flower

Conover is adding the species he finds to UC's plant collection.