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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - June 05, 2006

From: Los Angeles, CA
Region: California
Topic: Invasive Plants
Title: Invasive definition kalanchoe pinnata
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

The plant Kalanchoe pinnata is listed as being invasive. What does that mean? Is it a weed or does it interefere with metropolitan plumbing? (root system)

ANSWER:

Here is a definition of "invasive" from TexasInvasives.org:

"An "invasive species" is defined as a species that is non-native (or alien) to the ecosystem under consideration and whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health. (Executive Order 13112).
Sometimes you will see invasive species referred to as exotic, alien, or non-indigenous species. The problem with these names is that they only refer to the non-native part of the definition above. Many exotic or alien species do not cause harm to our economy, our environment, or our health. In fact, the vast majority of "introduced" species do not survive and only about 15% of those that do go on to become "invasive" or harmful.
An invasive species grows/reproduces and spreads rapidly, establishes over large areas, and persists. Species that become invasive succeed due to favorable environmental conditions and lack of natural predators, competitors and diseases that normally regulate their populations."

In the contiguous 48 states, Kalanchoe pinnata (native to Africa, Madagascar, India and Indian Ocean Islands) is listed on the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council's 2005 List of Florida's Most Invasive Species as a Category II species—not yet invasive, but with the potential to become invasive. It doesn't appear to be listed as invasive in any of the other 48 contiguous states, but it is listed in Hawaii by the Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk (HEAR) project as being one of Hawaii's most invasive horticultural plants.

Although it is not listed as invasive in California, you should be aware that it has the potential to become invasive wherever it is present. The California Invasive Plant Council says:

"Across California, invasive plants are damaging wildlands. Invasive plants displace native plants and wildlife, increase wildfire and flood danger, consume valuable water, degrade recreational opportunities, and destroy productive range and timber lands. As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, Cal-IPC works with land managers, concerned citizens, and policy makers to protect the state from invasive plants."
 

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