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Michigan's Invasive Species Community

Cheerios & bees

Katie Grzesiak

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I'm sure you've all seen this by now, but Cheerios is working to bring back the bees.  Yay!  Too bad they're not specific on which plants they're dishing out.  On the Canadian page, they do list species--and 6 or more are non-native, and at least 3 are invasive (hoary alyssum, 2 different forget-me-nots).
I contacted them, but I'm not expecting a response.  It might be a good thing for other coordinators (and folks at a Great Lakes Region) to look into as well.
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I went ahead and looked up each species the USDA's website as well as looking a bit closer at Michigan Flora, to look at establishment/distribution/etc. Let me know if there's any other information that would be helpful and please let me know if there are any errors! Common names can add in a whole other layer of confusion and uncertainty, so I tried to look for versions common in cultivation under these names. 

Chinese Forget-me-not (Cynoglossum amabile)--Has established in a few states, including Wisconsin. 

Wallflower, Siberian (Cheiranthus allionii)--Not established in the United States

California Orange Poppy (Eschscholzia californica)--Listed by the USDA as native to Houghton County, presumably as a mistake. Native to the western US. 

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)--Most likely both native and non-native verieties  to various areas of Michigan, though multiple species go under the same name. 

Single Mix China Aster (Callistephus chinensis)--Rarely escaped in Michigan, but naturalized in a few states in the Northeast. 

Corn Poppy (Papaver rhoeas)--Commonly escaped throughout the United States and southern Canada. 

Lance Leaved Coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata)--Also, it seems, can be called "sand coreopsis", though common names introduce some uncertainty. Sand coreposis is native to northern and western Michigan in dry, sandy areas. 

Blue Flax (Linum perenne)-- Linum lewisii also goes by this name. L. perenne is escaped in many areas in Michigan, while L. lewisii is not listed as in the US. 

Baby Blue Eyes (Nemophila menziesii)--Native along the western coast of the US, not found in Michigan. 

Globe Gilia (Gilia capitata)-- Native west of here and possibly south, but not found in Michigan. 

Indian Blanket (Gaillardia pulchella )--Listed as native by some sources, but not by others. Appearing wildly throughout the US. 

Tidy - Tips (Layia platyglossa)--Native far west of Michigan, not known to be found in the great lakes. 

Plains Coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria)--Native west of here, but planted commonly. Locally escaped.

Tall White Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima)--Sporadically found throughout Michigan, where it has escaped from plantings. Listed in many areas as invasive. 

Lavender Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)--Native west of here, but spread into the Upper Peninsula. 

Daisy Fleabane (Erigeron strigosus)--Native throughout almost all of Michigan. 

Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis sp.)--There are some native forget-me-nots in the area, but the more common "garden" verities are non-native and can become weedy. 

New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae)--Native and common throughout Michigan. 

Bergamot (Monarda sp.)--Two species of Monarda sp. are found in Michigan, both of which are native. Monarda fistulsa is commonly sold as "wild bergamot", and is native throughout the state. 

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Fortunately 100 million wildflower seeds is actually not that many. Also, Hoary Allysum is not in the same genus as the "sweet allysum" they are giving out in Canada. I have never seen sweet allysum reseed itself. While a few escapees have been noted in Michigan, I doubt if we need to worry about it. 

Also, though I have seen forget-me-nots misbehaving, I do not know if they are truly by definition invasive. Harm economy? human health? environment? They may threaten the native forget-me-nots, particularly through hybridization (just conjecture, I don't know of any studies showing this)? Interestingly, I do not know any botanists that can confidently even key out the native species from the invasives without a microscope. Do any of you have some pointers?
It does seem that if we are worried about forget-me-nots, we would be better off to address it with the many seed suppliers in our communities, or somehow convince people that these lovely little blue flowers are bad. They are in the category of plants that you should not let into your garden unless you really want them there - impossible to get rid of.
Just sayin.
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On 3/16/2017 at 4:02 PM, Vicki Sawicki said:

Also, though I have seen forget-me-nots misbehaving, I do not know if they are truly by definition invasive. Harm economy? human health? environment?

Forget-me-nots are a pet-peeve of mine.  While these plants are far from our worst invaders, they are definitely invasive species.  They form some impressive monocultures, particularly along trailsides, crowding out spring ephemerals and early summer blooms in woodlands. I saw this firsthand through 6 seasons of removing them at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (and the awesome results of removing those seed sources).  They out-competed everything from grasses and violets to Trillium and orchids.  So, detrimental to the environment, plus economy (tourists coming to enjoy the natural world). I'm sure some of the other non-natives have similar situations--it sounds from Eleanor's post like sweet alyssum might even be worse.

Personal experience aside, I agree that none of the plants on this list are anywhere near the impact of something like giant hogweed or Japanese knotweed, and are clearly not on our any of our lists of top priorities.  However, that doesn't mean this isn't a great chance to capitalize on the publicity to share the importance of plant choice, and maybe even make some headway with the local sellers you mentioned.  No one HAS to do anything, it's just an important thing to share between CISMAs. :)  When enough of us who are able do something, we can make big changes.

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Claire, I just saw your post, sorry.  A quick look at the Grow The Rainbow site looks pretty good--the species list was a bunch of natives.  The generic pack even let you pick your region.

HOWEVER, the "hummingbird and butterfly" pack looked pretty similar to the Cheerios list.  Win some, lose some.

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