Invasive Plant Terminology: As it relates to the horticulture industry.
James Altland - Application Technology Research Unit, USDA-ARS, Wooster, OH
The nursery and landscape industries are often viewed as major pathways for introduction of invasive plants. Whether this recognition is deserved or not, states and government entities are passing restrictive legislation. The horticultural industry should be proactive in dealing with invasive plant issues before legislation forces them into undesirable programs or practices. One of the problems facing the horticulture industry is the lack of a consistent and accurate terminology to describe invasive plants. Ecologists have been debating invasive terminology for many years. They still do not agree precisely what constitutes a native plant, much less what constitutes an invasive plant. In the interest of promoting uniformity of language in the business of nursery crop production, the following terminology is recommended for the United States. Use the term native to describe plants that naturally occurred in a particular habitat or region prior to Euro-American settlement. Use the term non-indigenous species (NIS) to describe plants that are not native. Avoid using the term alien, as this and similar terms have been viewed as racist. Use the term invasive to describe populations of plants that produce reproductive offspring, often in very large numbers, and distribute those offspring at considerable distances from parent plants and thus have the potential to spread over a considerable area and cause economic or environmental impact. Avoid using the term noxious. Noxious is not an ecological description, but a label applied by government and other entities whose criteria vary greatly.