On a recent February day Team Toad spent a sunny morning pulling non-native plants at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden as part of our Do The Right Thing initiative. The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is just a skip up the hill from our headquarters, nestled amongst the Santa Ynez mountains and home to 10 unique gardens, a Native American creek dam, and one very impressive wildflower meadow.
As many as 6,550 species and varieties of plants (collectively referred to as taxa), are believed to be native to the state of California. Of that, 2,270 taxa are found no where else in the world and 1,120 species are considered endangered. Invasive plant species, or weeds, pose a major threat to these endangered native species.
Invasive species are characterized by their adaptability to new environments and aggressive growth within those environments. Without nature’s checks and balance system (like seasonal weather or hungry insects), one small weed can turn into a big problem. Especially in California where water is a hot (or cool) commodity, weeds are taking over prime soil real estate and pushing native species to the brink.
Although they can look like lovely wildflowers or clovers to the untrained eye, weeds can do some serious damage. Without a thriving native plant population, other wildlife that depends on native plants may migrate or die out, leaving a big imbalance in a fragile ecosystem. So when invasive plants become too unruly for mother nature, that’s when a little bit of man power goes a long way.
After a hours of weeding and a few trips to the compost bin, there was only one thing left to do: Enjoy the gardens. Ok, there were lots of things left to do – it’s a ravenous invasive species, after all… To learn more about the Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens and California’s native plant species, visit www.sbbg.org. If you’re not in California contact your regional botanic garden or arboretum about volunteer opportunities. Trust us, you’ll benefit just as much from a morning pulling weeds as the garden will!