Invasive Action 2 and What’s Invasive? Second Invasive Action Day Spawns a Habit

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Photo by David Desiderato

Rear: Lee Barba, Faith Tyldsley, Aubrey Schulz, Nick Thoms. Middle: Diana Hughes, Valerie Raggio, Ellen Thomson. Front: Sarah Hsieh, Mike Gantt, Jim Watso. Not pictured: Ellen Cunha.

Twelve energized volunteers from Granby and Simsbury gave native plants breathing room and a chance to thrive at two West Granby sites on March 13. The bracing winds and cool temps gradually abated through the morning and complemented the internal heat produced by cutting, uprooting, dragging and flattening invasive plants. One crew tackled statuesque but embattled shagbark hickories on Day Street South and the other continued the progress begun in November along the path from the main Holcomb Farm buildings down to the CSA field. Check out these breakthrough sites and appreciate great neighbors.

The group’s passion, positive energy and sense of purpose led to a plan to schedule monthly Invasive Action Days on the second Saturday of each month, 9 a.m. to noon, starting April 10. Interested? Sign up at

What’s Invasive?

The term “invasive plant” is sometimes used informally but has a specific meaning. Gardeners and those who enjoy the outdoors are very aware of plants that are annoying or toxic, and may sometimes wonder if they “belong” here. Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) is a serious problem for those sensitive to it, but it is native to our region and its berries and leaves are a source of food for bird and mammals. Some vines that rapidly climb trees and may appear to be harming them—grapes (Vitis labrusca) and Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) for example—are natives that benefit birds and others and generally do not harm trees. Controlling or structuring the growth of these three rapidly growing natives may sometimes be needed, but the goal should not be eradication.

Connecticut’s central hub for invasive plant information and action, CT Invasive Plant Working Group (CIPWG), defines them briefly as “non-native plants that are disruptive in a way that causes environmental or economic harm, or harm to human health.” 

CIPWG’s more detailed definition describes how invasive plants crowd out native plants: They grow rapidly, flourish in a wide range of situations, reproduce quickly, have no natural control mechanisms and often change soil chemistry to make it harder for native plants to live near them. 

About 100 plants are currently considered invasive in Connecticut. To get on the list, plants have to meet most of nine conditions spelled out in state law (Sec 22a-381b) and be recognized by the Invasive Plants Council (IPC), a public body related to CIPWG. Anyone can nominate a plant to be on the list using a form on the IPC website.

Of the 100, some are more serious than others. About 80 of the 100 are prohibited by statute from “importation, movement, sale, purchase, transplanting, cultivation and distribution.”

About half are considered “potentially” invasive; familiar examples are amur maple (Acer ginnela), ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea), several privets (Ligustrum) and several honeysuckles (Lonicera). 

Ten or 20 invasive plants are the super critical crisis-level problem plants in the area at this time. These include bittersweet, multiflora rose, barberry, knotweed, mugwort, autumn olive, euonymus, garlic mustard and a few others that are the focus of this column and Granby’s NOT WANTED invasive plant campaign.

We created this problem, in a relatively short period of time, less than 200 years. By working together in Invasive Action Days, one site at a time, using proven methods, we can gradually return the land to its natural self-sustaining diversity that flourished here for millennia before we began importing these problem plants. Join the effort at