The landscape of Massachusetts began to undergo drastic changes as soon
as the first settlers arrived from Europe centuries ago. One constant
method of change has been the introduction of non-native or "alien" plants,
which have drastically altered the New England landscape from its original
pre-colonization form. While some of these introductions were purposeful,
as a means of decorating gardens and providing familiar food, many non-native
plant introductions were accidental, having been caused by contaminated
grain, dumping of ship's
ballast or wool-waste, or simply by the constant trekking of humans
from one region to another (see Crosby 1986).
While there are thousands of plants that grow in the United States that
are not considered native, only 1400 of them are considered "invasive"
(FICMNEW 1998), meaning that they spread
aggressively and/or invade ecologically or economically important habitats.
This part of the Conservation
New England web site will explore the history of 14 different non-native
plants. Some are considered invasive, while some are not, and they
were introduced through several different vectors. Many, many hours
were spent poring over the dozens of local floras that have been published
for Massachusetts to collect data for this project.
As you browse through the descriptions, animated maps and related links,
think about the fact that more than one-third of the plants growing wild
in Massachusetts are non-native (Paul Somers, pers. comm.). The continued
introduction of alien plants into this state, whether accidentally or on
purpose, displaces the native flora and destroys the uniqueness of the
entire region of New England.
- How we designed the project and did our research
Results - Your introduction to 14 non-native plants in Massachusetts.
This project was created by: Jennifer
Forman and Jim Stark
- Learn about what non-native plants do to our unique landscape
- Kudos to the many people that helped us out!
Home Page | Terrestrial
Group | Introduced Plant Page | Methods
| Refs |