With the warm weather favouring backyard gardeners and water garden enthusiasts, the Columbia Shuswap Invasive Species Society (CSISS) is reminding the public to be careful when selecting plants and animals for their ponds and gardens.  

“Water garden species can be lovely, but those with invasive tendencies can cause major problems in your garden as well as the wider environment” says Sue Davies, Aquatic Program Coordinator of CSISS. “When aquatic plants and animals begin to invade, they can totally take over and are extremely difficult to remove.  They can create havoc within natural ecosystems and also for human use of waterways.  It’s really important to prevent these species getting a toe-hold, and knowing what not to bring into your garden is the key.”

Some species listed on the provincial noxious weed list, such as flowering rush, can sometimes be found in retail garden centres. Flowering rush is regarded as one of the top five worst invasive alien plants in Canada due to its major ecological impact on natural ecosystems. Flowering rush is a species to be on the alert for, as it has already been found in British Columbia but is not yet established. The public is asked to help prevent the spread of this high priority plant by reporting any sightings and by never planting flowering rush in water gardens. Other common water garden species that are considered invasive and should be avoided include knotweed, purple loosestrife, yellow flag iris, parrot’s feather, mountain bluet, periwinkle, goldfish, red-eared slider turtle, and American bullfrog.

Following the Invasive Species Council of BC’s popular PlantWise and Don’t Let It Loose programs, CSISS urges the public to garden using only non-invasive species to prevent the spread of unwanted and invasive plants and animals into the environment. The public can access resources and information by visiting CSISS’s website at www.columbiashuswapinvasives.org.

The cost of invasive species to Canada is between $16.6 billion and $34.5 billion per year. In British Columbia, just six invasive plant species caused an estimated combined damage of at least $65 million in 2008. With further spread, impacts will more than double to $139 million by 2020.FloweringRush2 Photo ISCBC

Columbia Shuswap Invasive Species Society