A high percentage of invasive plants in the U.S. are of horticultural origin. In California, the percentage is 48% (Bell et al. 2007). This is not due to mal intent, but rather a lack of awareness. Many of these invaders were introduced decades ago as novel, gorgeous and practical (e.g. erosion control, low water use, fast growing) plants for garden and landscape. Nobody could have imagined the costly damage that invasive plants would cause.
Good news…Today we do know better, thanks to: 1) understanding the adverse impacts invasive plants can have on wild lands, waterways, native species and on taxpayer wallets; and 2) recent advances in plant screening technology that can predict plant behavior in a given region.
PlantRight has worked with researchers at University of Washington and University of California, Davis to develop the PlantRight Plant Risk Evaluator (PRE) tool, a method for determining a plant’s potential for becoming invasive in any specific region. This tool is an adaptation of a broader weed risk assessment (WRA) screening tool and allows for highly accurate (95%) predictions specifically tailored to horticultural plants. For more information about the PRE model and research, please review this (March 2015) publication in the peer-reviewed scientific journal PLoS ONE.
To turn this research into action, PlantRight has begun developing a PRE database and website. This database is still in its beta phase, and by soliciting industry feedback, we hope to develop PRE’s plant screening process into a widely-used and valued resource that equips every horticultural grower with the knowledge to prevent new plant invasions in regions where they (and their customers) market and sell plants.
PRE benefits for new plant developers include:
- Providing customers (and customers’ customers) with even better plants;
- Becoming a problem solver in preventing future plant invasions;
- Protecting R&D investments in new plants;
- Staying one-step ahead of local ordinances and or regulatory threats (e.g. Q37);
- Demonstrating sustainable practices at work; and,
- Protecting wild lands in all regions where plants are marketed and sold.
If you are a horticultural breeder, propagator, or grower, we invite you to join us in this endeavor, by setting up your own PRE Account? Just drop us an email, PlantRight@suscon.org.
If you are a plant scientist, affiliated with a horticultural college, and would like to learn more about becoming a PRE Screener, contact us, PlantRight@suscon.org.
Sincere appreciations to the team that led the PRE model research, at University of California (Davis) and University of Washington: Joseph M. DiTomaso, Christiana Conser, Sarah Reichard, Lizbeth Seebacher and Dave Fujino. Thanks also to Horticultural Research Institute for funding a portion of this research.
100% of PRE beta funding is provided by Sustainable Conservation, a California nonprofit.
PlantRight PRE’s mission is to equip the horticultural industry with the knowledge to promote exclusively non-invasive plants in regional markets, while preventing new ornamental plant invasions.