Township Of Morris
Environmental Commission
MAY 2022
Township Committee Passes Resolution Recognizing List of Do-Not-Plant Invasive Species
Last month, the Township Committee passed Resolution No. 93-22 Recommending Invasive Species “Do Not Plant” List.

This resolution strongly encourages our community to avoid planting any species appearing on the New Jersey Invasive Species Strike Team's Do Not Plant List and to use native plants whenever possible. It applies to:
  • All public, private and commercial property owners and mangers
  • Local garden centers and nurseries
  • Professional landscapers
  • Township Recreation and Public Works Departments

Additionally, the NJ Invasive Species Strike Team's Do Not Plant List will be consulted when the Township reviews landscape plans that are part of site development plans.

Why avoiding invasive plants important
Invasive plant encroachment seriously threatens the health of the public and private forests that we depend upon for storm-water mitigation, drinking water filtration, and recreation. They also threaten insect, bird and other wildlife populations because the native plants they crowd out are a critical part of the food chain.

What homeowners can do
Roughly half of the invasive plant species have been spread through their use for ornamental gardening and landscaping. There are wonderful native alternatives to each of these species, with some examples listed in an article below.
Focus on Invasives: Japanese Barberry and Ticks
Japanese Barberry (Euonymus alata)—commonly seen in suburban landscapes due to its ornamental value—is one of New Jersey's most problematic invasive species.

An aggressive grower with high seed dispersal and virtually no local predators, this thorny beast is banned from sale in several states because it has spread from gardens and landscaped areas to colonize forests and other natural areas. It crowds out native plants, which wildlife depend on for survival and are the foundation of a healthy and resilient forest.

Harbors 10x more ticks
Barberry also harbors the species of tick that carries Lyme disease. Studies have shown that a barberry patch can host up to 120 Lyme disease-carrying ticks per acre, compared with only 10 diseased ticks per acre without barberry. For more information about ticks and Lyme disease, please review this Tick Safety Summary from Rutgers University.

What you can do
What to do if you have Barberry on your property? Please consider removing and replacing with any number of native, wildlife-friendly shrubs such as winterberry holly, inkberry holly, New Jersey tea, bayberry, wild hydrangea, ninebark, silky dogwood, red chokeberry, and black chokeberry. Learn more here.
"Your leaf litter can be home to a rich assortment of native plants while it is fertilizing, mulching, and watering your land."
Focus on Invasives: Are Butterfly Bushes Bad for Butterflies? And What Can We Do about It?
Buddleja Davidii—commonly known as "Butterfly Bush" and sometimes "Summer Lilac—is a magnet for butterflies that pass through your garden seeking nectar.

Unfortunately, Butterfly Bush is also listed on the New Jersey Invasive Species Strike Team's Do Not Plant List.

That's because each plant produces over 100,000 seeds, and they are distributed in the wind, so even though you may not see seedlings popping up in your garden, your plant is likely responsible for spreading into distant natural areas like stream banks and disturbed industrial sites. Over years, Butterfly Bush will crowd out native wildflowers that host a far wider variety of pollinators than just butterflies.

Only 21 and Over Admitted
The Butterfly Bush is like a 21-and-over nightclub for butterflies. It attracts adults with nectar but doesn’t actually provide habitat for the other stages of life: eggs, caterpillars (larvae), and pupae.

With very few exceptions, native plants are the only hosts for butterfly eggs and larvae. This is because they evolved together and the insects are able to overcome their selected plant's potent defenses. A diverse selection of native plants is important because different species evolved to specialize to varying degrees on different host plants.

Monarch butterflies are one example of a complete specialist: their eggs and larvae are completely dependent on the foliage of one species in the milkweed family. Most adult butterflies, including Monarchs, are generalists that are happy to take nectar from any convenient flower.

What you can do
Here are three suggestions for how to control or eliminate the issue of unwanted spread of butterfly bush:
  1. Substitute native flowering shrubs like Summersweet/Sweet Pepperbush and SweetSpire, as well as native wild flowers like Butterfly weed, Joe Pye, Goldenrod, and Asters. These plants will host dozens of native butterflies and moth species, from larvae to adults. Jersey Friendly Yards can help you quickly narrow your choices.
  2. If you must plant a new Butterfly Bush, please choose a STERILE cultivar that cannot create viable seeds.
  3. If you can't accept replacing your current Butterfly Bush, please deadhead the blooms completely and quickly to prevent seed heads from forming.
Searchable Database Is a Comprehensive Resource for Avoiding Invasive Plants and Finding Natives
The Jersey-Friendly Plant Database is an indispensable resource for township residents who want to landscape for a healthy environment.

The database features an astonishing 14 search filters, allowing you to pinpoint exactly which plant is best for your yard. Search filters include plant type (i.e., flower, shrub, tree, vine, etc.), bloom color, bloom time, soil requirements, and much more. The database includes 309 native plants of all kinds. (You must register if you plan to save or print your list.)

The Jersey-Friendly Yards website also features Top Invasive Plants to Avoid Planting in Your Yard. We strongly encourage you to explore all of the content and resources available from the Jersey-Friendly Yards website.
Tip of the Month: Replacing Common Invasive Ornamentals with Similar Natives
Events Calendar
BioBlitz Morris Nature Festival on June 4, 10am to 4pm
The BioBlitz Morris Nature Festival will be held at Russ Myers Field in Lewis Morris County Park. Activities include wildlife identification, stream water assessments and nature shows by Grand Falloons and Rizzo's Reptiles. Snacks and water will be provided. Please register if interested. Sponsored by the Whippany River Watershed Action Committee.
Native Plant of the Month: Golden Ragwort
(Photo Credit: Charlie Schachter, Member, Environmental Commission)
Golden Ragwort (Packera aurea) is also known as butterweed and Golden Groundsel. This northeastern native is found in open woods and fields along the coastal plain, from New Jersey to Texas.

It is one of the earliest bloomers in our area, which makes Golden Ragwort ideal for insects seeking pollen during a season when food is scarce. It puts up tall spikes with bright yellow flowers in spring and then retreats into a low evergreen groundcover the rest of the year. Spreads aggressively, but easily controlled.

This particular plant was purchased at the Great Swamp Watershed Association's 2021 Annual Native Plant Sale. The 2022 sale just ended, but it will return in March 2023.
Township Recognizes Work of Environmental Commission On Earth Day 2022
The Township Committee celebrated Earth Day (April 20th, 2022) by passing two resolutions. The first recognized the contributions of the Environmental Commission to the community's environmental sustainability. The second resolution recognized former EC chairperson Daniel "Buz" Kenney for his leadership tenure. We thank the Township Committee for its acknowledgment of our efforts.
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