One TikToker’s tour through local stores in British Columbia uncovered a horrifying array of invasive plants being sold with no warning — and often with deceptive names.
Invasive species are plants or animals that flourish in new places after being transported outside their native environments. In fact, they do too well, destroying the balance of local ecosystems. In the case of plants, they might multiply and spread, outcompeting native species for light, water, and nutrients — and some even physically strangle other plants.
Sadly, many invasive species are also popular house and garden plants — and they’re sold freely, without regard for the damage they can do. That’s what TikToker Invasive Species Guy (@invasivespeciesguy) wanted to shine a light on in a recent slideshow.
“I hope this opens your eyes as to how serious of an issue this is,” he said. “We spend so much time removing these invasive species from the land, yet we can’t stop them at their source, due to inadequate laws and regulations.”
The slideshow included several species that Invasive Species Guy said were invasive in his area, including English holly and snowdrops, and could escape gardens and take over wild areas. Popular flowers such as foxgloves (which are poisonous) and bachelor’s buttons (Centaurea cyanus) also turned up either by themselves or in “wildflower mix” seed packets — some with misleading brand names that might trick the unwary gardener into thinking they were native.
The worst offender was English ivy.
This plant is notorious for spreading across both horizontal and vertical surfaces, choking out any other species in its path. It’s also incredibly difficult to remove since small clippings can re-root and start to grow again.
Invasive Species Guy found more than half a dozen places where English ivy was being sold. Some used names such as “ivy Hedera,” while others didn’t list any species at all. “I love how much of a range there is on English ivy prices and product names,” he said sarcastically. “Like, are we getting a ‘Basket with Vegetation’ for $3.99 or a ‘Tropical Helix’ for $16.99?”
His advice was that these plants simply aren’t worth it. “We must become PlantWise!” he said.
Commenters were horrified. “I was so shocked to find out WCS sells those,” one user said. “I know a former higher up and he’s so environmentally minded.”
“There should be regulations for this,” another user wrote.
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