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State lawmakers reach near-unanimous decision on bill that will impact homeowners across the state: 'An invasion has been under [our] nose'

"The very top five of those plants are the ones listed on the bill."

"The very top five of those plants are the ones listed on the bill."

Photo Credit: iStock

Invasive plants have the ability to wreak havoc on local ecosystems by outcompeting native plants and disrupting the balance of the environment, but that hasn't stopped them from being grown or sold in many areas. However, Missouri is the latest state to start fighting back against these destructive species.

As explained by Missouri's NBC affiliate, Rep. Bruce Sassman introduced the bill HB 2412, which would effectively ban the sale of invasive plants in the state. The bill was passed by a near-unanimous vote of nine to one in the Missouri House's Conservation and Natural Resources Committee. However, it has yet to be scheduled for a House vote and is still being debated.

If the bill is ratified, nurseries that sell callery pear (including Bradford pear and Chanticleer pear), burning bush, climbing euonymus (also known as wintercreeper), Japanese honeysuckle or Sericea lespedeza will have their state certification withheld, barring them from continuing operations. NBC noted that "an invasion has been under Missouri's nose for generations" due to the presence of these plants.

Of course, there are more than five plants causing problems in the state of Missouri, but the Missouri Invasive Plant Council that championed the bill determined that those five were the "most infamous" based on public comments collected since 2020.

"We, over several years, invited input from agriculture groups, horticulture groups, conservation groups and the general public on which invasive plants in Missouri would they support being on a prohibited sale list," said Carol Davit, chair of the council and executive director of the Missouri Prarie Foundation. "The very top five of those plants are the ones listed on the bill."

Missouri is not alone in recognizing the problems caused by invasive species. For example, North Carolina has taken steps to address this issue by incentivizing residents to remove Bradford pear trees. Their program offers a free native tree in exchange for the removal of the invasive plant.

Davit noted that the intention of the bill is not to threaten plant growers and sellers in Missouri, so there will be a grace period that gives them time to sell off any inventory of the five species before switching exclusively to non-invasive plants.

"​​If you are a plant seller and you purchased Callery pear plants and you had them in your nursery for 10 years ... we feel that that grower should have the right to sell those, deplete that inventory during that grace period," Davit said. "We do the work we do because we want to benefit Missouri and Missourians and we don't want a burden or a hardship on anyone."

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