Science12 Dec 2010 08:15 am
In the broadest sense, a “weed” is any plant growing where it is not wanted. However, all “weeds” are not created equal- they can be native or non-native, invasive or non-invasive, noxious or not noxious.
Legally, a “noxious weed” is any plant species designated by a Federal, State or county government as injurious to public health, agriculture, recreation, wildlife or property. Invasive plants are not necessarily noxious weeds, even though most noxious weeds are invasive. Invasive plants include not only noxious weeds, but also other plants that are not native to this country or to the area where they are growing. Apparently, weeds can be way more menacing than the unfairly maligned dandelion had led me to believe….
Noxious weeds tend to grow aggressively, multiply quickly without natural controls (native herbivores, soil chemistry, etc.), and adversely affect native habitats, croplands, and/or are injurious to humans, native fauna, and livestock through contact or ingestion. Some invasives can even change ecosystem processes such as hydrology, fire regimes, and soil chemistry. These invasive plants have a competitive advantage because they are no longer controlled by their natural predators, and have the potential to spread completely unchecked.
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