Steve Jasiecki/Phragmites are an invasive species common along causeways and wetlands areas.

MARGATE – A short film and discussion on invasive trees and plants will be shown 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 10 at the William H. Ross Elementary School, 101 N. Huntington Ave. The film, “Twelve Tenacious Invasives,” was produced by the Galloway Township Environmental Commission with a grant from the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions.

The film explains the importance of avoiding invasive plant species and what to look for by highlighting 12 of the most invasive plants in the South Jersey area.

Sustainable Downbeach and the Margate Recreation Department invited the Galloway Township Environmental Commission to show its film so residents can have a better understanding of invasive species and to help them make better selections when choosing plants and trees for their landscaping.

Invasive plants are ones that have been introduced to an area either purposely or accidentally. They can out-compete native species, kill native plants and trees, destroy habitat and throw an entire ecosystem out of balance. Landscapers may have used such plants and trees because they are attractive, inexpensive, are easy to maintain or don’t attract bees, etc. Others may have been accidentally introduced because seeds found their way in products shipped in from other areas. Either way, once invasive plants take root, they can quickly spread and become difficult if not impossible to remove. Two very common and recognizable species are bamboo and phragmites.

Phragmites are the tall reeds with the bushy seed heads that you see along causeways leading to the barrier islands and along slightly raised areas of wetlands. They were accidently introduced to America centuries ago when ships coming from Europe carried phragamites seeds along with their cargo. They are particularly dangerous because they displace native cattails, cordgrasses, wild rice, beach plum, wild black cherry trees, bayberry bushes, deep rooted clump grasses and other plants that creatures depend on for food and shelter.

Homeowners sometimes plant bamboo to acquire a more tropical feel or to establish a privacy property line. Bamboo grows very fast and sends shoots underground, establishing new plants that can overtake adjacent property, raising legal concerns and land value repercussions.

Homeowners, landscapers and developers are encouraged to view the film to have a greater understanding of the consequences of invasive plants and trees. Making better choices when selecting trees, bushes and other plants will support native wildlife and help keep the local ecology in balance.

The program is free and open to the public.

Categories: Margate