WVXU: Plant native plants

UC study shows how nonnative invasive plants are taking hold in Ohio

WVXU talked to a University of Cincinnati biologist about a new botanical survey of southwest Ohio that found an alarming variety of nonnative invasive plants.

UC College of Arts and Sciences biology professor Denis Conover surveyed parts of Hamilton County where he found nonnative invasive plants such as English ivy, winter creeper, white mulberry and multiflora rose, among many others.

A black and white photo of E. Lucy Braun.

UC ecology professor E. Lucy Braun conducted a botanical survey of southwest Ohio in 1934.

Conover is replicating exhaustive botanical surveys of the area by UC doctoral graduate and professor E. Lucy Braun in 1934 and Cincinnati botanist Thomas G. Lea in 1834. His study, published this month in the open-access journal Ecological Restoration, helps describe how Cincinnati's plant diversity has changed over the last 200 years.

"It's a different world than it was in 1834 or even 1934 when Lucy Braun was doing her plant survey," Conover told WVXU

“Native plants just don’t have a chance. Everything that depends on the native plants — insects, birds — can be lost,” Conover said. “When they introduce nonnative plants to the United States, they can also import fungal diseases that can wipe out native trees, which is what happened with the American chestnut.”

Conover said people can help by choosing to plant species that are native to the area in their lawns and gardens.

Listen to the WVXU story.

Learn more about nature

UC biology professor Denis Conover leads weekly interpretive nature walks at 2:30 p.m. Sundays at Burnet Woods.

Denis Conover in a face mask holds a plant with pretty blue and purple berries.

UC biology professor Denis Conover holds porcelainberry during a botanical survey of Spring Grove Cemetery. Photo/Lisa Ventre/UC Marketing + Brand