It helps when you choose native plants over known invasives
 ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌
A corner of a veggie garden is home to nodding onion and cardinal flower.
WPC’s Invasive Species Coordinator Amy Jewitt created a corner of her garden using two native species of flowering plants. The red flowers are cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) and the white are nodding onion (Allium cernuum). Amy shows us that starting small can be a great introduction to gardening, and using native plants adds richness to home landscapes.
Growing Good with Native Species
The snowy winter landscape in Western Pennsylvania has been a beautiful sight, but many of us eagerly await the greener days of spring. You may soon see planting at one of the many WPC gardens supported by your membership, and you may be curious about how we select plants for those gardens.

We take the utmost care to be sure not to introduce invasive species that can escape the garden and cause problems for native wildlife. WPC's gardens contain non-native plants that are non-invasive beauties, like tulips and daffodils, and native perennials like brown-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) and Joe-pye-weed (Eutrochium purpureum).

A native species is one that naturally occurs in an area and was not recently introduced by humans. You or the gardener in your life can support native wildlife where you live by considering some of the options below.

If you’ve never tried gardening before, or you want to learn more about WPC’s community gardens, find out how you can volunteer to help plant a garden here.

Butterfly weed with orange flowers and a butterfly visitor.
Butterfly weed
(Asclepias tuberosa)

Although the non-native orange-eye butterfly-bush (Buddleja davidii, above right) attracts butterflies to its flowers, it doesn’t provide food for caterpillars. Planting native plants, such as the butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa, above left), will feed caterpillars and offer nectar for adult butterflies, benefiting both life stages of these important pollinators.
Choose the native coral honeysuckle over the invasive bush honeysuckle.
Coral honeysuckle
(Lonicera sempervirens)

A variety of non-native honeysuckle species collectively known as bush honeysuckles (Lonicera spp., above right) are known to be invasive. These species outcompete important native vegetation and contribute to soil erosion. They can even be a danger to native songbirds. A native option is the coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens, above left). This beautiful plant's vines can be used as ground cover, and is safely enjoyed by bees, finches and hummingbirds.

Common winterberry with green leaves and red berries
Common winterberry
(Ilex verticillata)

The PA Department of Agriculture has added Japanese barberry, (Berberis thunbergii, above right) to its list of noxious weeds. Pennsylvania is in the process of banning this plant. It's a hardy plant commonly planted in many yards, gardens and landscaped commercial spaces. Not only is it quick to spread and crowd out native shrubs, it alters the surrounding soil’s chemistry and microbial composition, fundamentally altering an ecosystem.

A friendly option is the common winterberry (Ilex verticillata, above left), a deciduous holly native to eastern North America. Its berries beautify the winter landscape and make birds happy, too.

Planting Alleghny serviceberry trees
Allegheny serviceberry
(Amelanchier laevis)

A commonly-used tree in landscapes is the Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana, above right), prized for its showy and fragrant white flowers that bloom each spring. However, these non-native invasive trees were recently banned by the PA Department of Agriculture. They can spread prolifically into natural spaces and outcompete native trees, shrubs and other vegetation. Although they provide food for wildlife, the Callery pear’s berries have poor nutritional value compared to fruits from native vegetation.

Allegheny serviceberry (Amelanchier laevis, above left, shown being planted by WPC staff and volunteers in spring 2021) is a small native understory tree. It shows white flowers early in the spring, and orange-red leaves in the fall, making it an ideal alternative to the Callery pear. The edible purplish-black fruit in early summer is attractive to many birds.

Learn more about other Pennsylvania plants and hear from WPC staff on why Green Isn't Always Good
National Invasives Awareness Week
February 28 – March 4, 2022

Now nature needs you more than ever.
Facebook Logo Instagram Logo YouTube Logo Linkedin Logo

Western Pennsylvania Conservancy
800 Waterfront Drive
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
United States

Email Marketing by ActiveCampaign