Invasive and Dangerous--Miscanthus
No photo this time.
OK, nevermind, by popular demand, here's a photo! Typical weedy stand of miscanthus on a windy day. Click to enlarge.
, otherwise known as Chinese Silvergrass, or Chinese Zebra grass, or a few other names, is all over Western North Carolina and dozens of other states. It is routinely sold at nurseries and garden centers around the country--at least those in zones 5 to 9.
It's pretty, I'll give it that. But so is
, and switchgrass won't burn down your house.
OK, so I'm exaggerating a little. It's not like miscanthus is going to spontaneously combust. However, as quoted from the Mid-Atlantic Exotic Pest Plant Council:
Burning plants can have flame lengths of thirty feet and have a high potential for spotting into receptive fuels.
" means chunks travel and start new fires wherever they hit receptive potential fuel. Which means it really ought to be illegal to sell this plant to homeowners anywhere near our National Forests.
If you are a homeowner with neighbors who have this plant in the yard, you are at risk. If there is wild
across the street from your home and your area happens to be experiencing drought, you are potentially at risk.
Now the interesting thing is that there is some interest in
for use in
. Researchers at the University of Illinois (
!) have found that
out-performs corn in ethanol production, without fertilizer. Two and one half times the production of corn on the same amount of acreage. So it's not like miscanthus is a "bad plant." It's just a bad idea to plant it anywhere near your house.
All invasives disrupt plant communities--its part of the definition of being
. "Exotics" are any introduced plant. "Invasives" have proven themselves able to reproduce quickly and replace native plants upon which other species (insects, birds, mammals, human critters) depend. So an invasive does active damage to the environment of the region which it invades. Not all invasives are the immediate risk that
is, but they all contribute to the loss of species we might like to keep--songbirds, butterflies and others.
I encourage you to read critically "
," and then consider
slogan: "Hello Invasive Species. Goodbye, Texas."
What are you saying goodbye to?