Ban the bluegrass?

By MICHELLE PERRY State Journal Staff Writer Published:

Kentucky's nickname may be the Bluegrass State but the turf grass has been placed on a list of varieties considered undesirable for sale or use in the Commonwealth.

A move is afoot by many area organizations to eradicate exotic invasive plants from private and public land. The Kentucky Exotic Pest Plant Council created a list of such plants, and indeed, the plant Kentucky is known for made the list as a "significant threat."

"It's not native to Kentucky, according to a number of botanists in the state," said Joyce Bender, Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission branch manager for nature preserves in natural areas and president of the Exotic Pest Plant Council. She said bluegrass came to America with those seeking to develop the horse industry.

While bluegrass falls into the list's second tier of threat, some other plants common to the area are listed under either "severe threat" or lesser threat." A number of experts ranked each of the plants to determine their categorical listing. While kudzu and fescue may be obvious choices for severe threats, burning bush and honeysuckle are also in that category.

Queen Anne's lace and mint are included in the significant threats, with timothy and daylilies listed as lesser threats. Donna Hopkins, president of the Garden Club of Frankfort, says plants like these threaten the native species by overcrowding and stealing resources from native plants.

Bender defines a weed as a plant that would never have made it to this area on its own, "beyond what its natural distribution abilities would be."

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