Native plant or invasive species in the Buffalo area?

Queen Anne's Lace in Buffalo NY
Queen Anne’s Lace

by Connie Oswald Stofko

I was going to plant Queen Anne’s lace in my garden.  I used to love picking these pretty wildflowers in the fields when I was growing up in Cheektowaga.  And hey, planting native species is good for the environment, right?

One problem: Queen Anne’s lace grows wild, but it’s not a native species.

“We’re at the point where the most common stuff is non-native,” said Paul Fuhrmann of Ecology & Environment and the New York State Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management.

That’s the problem in a nutshell: These non-native species choke out the native plants.

This is an important issue for gardeners because pretty plants we use in our gardens can naturalize and become invasive species, moving into fields and woodlands.

Even vinca, a vine with a lovely purple flower that I use myself, is finding its way out of our gardens. While we may be able to manage the spread of a plant in our yards by weeding it out or running it over with a lawn mower, these plants are much more difficult to control when they get into wild areas.

vinca in Buffalo NY

Another example is the multiflora rose, which was introduced as an ornamental plant but can now be found in fields and wooded areas in Western New York.

“It’s taking over,” Fuhrmann said.

Fuhrmann will discuss the problem in a talk from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Monday, May 2.

The talk is the last lecture of the 2011 winter-spring speakers series sponsored by the Western New York Land Conservancy. The speakers series celebrates the group’s 20th anniversary.

This series is co-hosted with the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site and is held at the site, 641 Delaware Ave. at North Street, Buffalo. (There is a free parking lot behind the site on Franklin Street.)

The talk is free, but you should register by calling (716) 687-1225 or e-mailing

multiflora rose
Multiflora rose. Image by James R. Allison, Georgia Department of Natural Resources,

Fuhrmann has more than 20 years of environmentally friendly landscaping experience with a specialty in native plant communities. He will discuss how invasive species have affected native birds, wildflowers, and wild life in Western New York. He will also address how we can protect and preserve our native habitats.

When it comes to Queen Anne’s lace, Fuhrmann suggests we not plant it in our gardens. Ohio lists the plant (also known as wild carrot) on the U.S. Department of Agriculture website as a prohibited noxious weed. New York State doesn’t yet have its own list of invasive species posted there.

By the way, if  you’re looking for garden plants that really are natives to Buffalo and Western New York, check out the native plant sale to be held by Wild Ones Niagara Falls and River Region Chapter. It will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (or until the plants are sold) Saturday, May 14 at at 1605 Main St., Niagara Falls. Trees, shrubs and perennials will be available.


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