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Plant expert warns against seemingly helpful seed-planting practice with harmful consequences: 'Please don't do this'

"It's good intentions, but …"

"It’s good intentions, but ..."

Photo Credit: TikTok

A TikTok video showing a man sprinkling seeds in the woods may have been well-intentioned, but one plant expert warned that his behavior was misinformed and dangerous.

The account Free Plants Forever (@free.plants.forever) reposted the original video, where the man is seen freely tossing seeds while running through the woods. In that video, he describes the seeds he's planting as "perennial food crops." 

@free.plants.forever #stitch with @Pierson Willhite Please please don't do this! LEAVE NO TRACE! Non-native plants contribute hugely to wildfires, habitat destruction and drought. These plants aren't designed for natural habitats. Learn to forage native plants instead. Listen to @Alexis Nikole . #plantsoftiktok #planttok #nativeplants #plantnative #habitatrestoration #wildfire #wildfireprevention ♬ original sound - Free plants forever

"Please please don't do this!" Free Plants Forever captioned their repost. "LEAVE NO TRACE! Non-native plants contribute hugely to wildfires, habitat destruction and drought. These plants aren't designed for [these] habitats."

The OP continued in the comments, saying, "He's literally spreading European seeds across Utah." Commenters echoed the frustration: "Yep, and destroying the native plants while he's at it," one replied.

"It's good intentions, but only do this with native species if you feel the need to do it at all," another wrote.

The OP responded, "Agree … it's misguided, only good if it's species native to the location."

Non-native plants have been linked to larger and faster-spreading wildfires around the globe, from California to Maui, Australia to Brazil, and more, according to the journal Science and the U.S. Geological Survey. And unfortunately, once those invasive species are established, they perpetuate a self-reinforcing cycle that increases both wildfires and invasive growth.

This happens because invasive species fuel wildfires, which kill less fire-tolerant native plants and thus create more habitat for the invasives. According to one report, just eight species of nonnative grasses are responsible for increasing fires in the U.S. by 27 to 230 percent.

In addition to increasing wildfire risk, invasive plants are notorious for taking over yards and even destroying property with their uncontrollable growth. According to one report, the roughly 3,500 geographically invasive plants and animals globally cost the world economy $423 billion each year. It's why some places have invented creative ways to address the problem, such as creating competitions for catching and cooking invasive fish.

Plant enthusiasts wanted to know how to avoid making mistakes like the original video. "If I use only native wildflowers, would that be okay?" one person asked. The OP replied: "Absolutely! If it's native to your region that's 100% great!"

One tip is to use the National Wildlife Federation's native plants finder, which lists appropriate native species to plant if you want to rewild your yard.

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