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Botanist calls out chain stores for selling 'trash' plant: 'This is one of the worst invasive species in America'

"They house rats in NYC too."

“They house rats in NYC too."

Photo Credit: TikTok

A botanist posted a video identifying the dangers of a seemingly harmless plant, pointing out that it was actually an invasive species strangling a native tree.

TikToker Jessie Dickson (@sacramentofoodforest) railed against English ivy, showing the vine growing up the trunk of an oak tree.

"Stop buying English Ivy," he implored. "This is one of the worst invasive species in America … English ivy kills trees."

@sacramentofoodforest #california #nativeplants #conservation Don't buy English ivy. When you see invasive plants around your neighborhood you remove them before they hurt native trees. English ivy kills trees and infests native habitats. We out here always looking out for the native homies. Plant native. #invasivespecies #invasive #english #ivy #englishivy #neighborhood #invasiveplants #trees #native #oaktree #flora #plantbiology #plant #suburban #landscape #plants #fall #cali #botany #ecology #sacramento #fresno #guerrillagardening #weeding #habitat #restoration #gardening101 #plantnative ♬ Spooky music box bell horror BGM - Notzan ACT

He goes on to explain the danger of the ivy. "First, it's gonna start shading [the tree] from sunlight, and the tree's gonna start dying. It's also growing into the tree. Look at the roots on this s***, dude!"

He shows the roots of the ivy, which are pushing their way into the bark. These cracks let in harmful fungus, he explains. 

"It girdles the bottom of the tree … like a noose around the [trunk] … But I'm about to save it!"

Ripping the vines off the bark is dangerous, he cautions, as it widens the cracks in the bark. Instead, he shows how to make a cut lower down on the vine's trunk.

The threat posed from invasive plant species is multifold. Their rapid growth alters landscapes and kills native plants. With native plants serving as the basis for local food chains, this poses risks for entire communities. 

"They house rats in NYC too," one person commented — and it's true. 

In the case of English ivy, one invasive species harbors another. According to The Press Democrat, the plant is a common nesting spot for brown rats, which can wreak havoc on property, contaminate food, and even transmit diseases to animals and humans.

The effects also interfere with the critical carbon-sequestering abilities of trees. With a single tree absorbing over 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year, according to Arbor Day Foundation, this is no small loss. 

One commenter wondered on TikTok whether she could keep the English ivy in her home — but doing so is dicey. 

"In your house is fine, but make sure to control it. No joke, it could literally climb out your window and spread. Would take awhile, but it's possible," someone replied. 

In fact, petitions have circulated asking stores like Home Depot to stop selling invasive plants in their garden centers. Investing in native plants is better for your yard, and there are easy tools like this Native Plant Finder to assist. 

"Native plant habitat restoration is easy if you try," Jessie emphasized. 

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