#childsafety | Some invasive plants not allowed in Indiana are still for sale

Did you know that plant, tree or shrub you purchased at a garden center might have been illegal to sell in Indiana?

Megan Abraham, director of the state division of entomology and plant pathology, knows all about it. She and her co-workers are tasked with ensuring the plants sold in Indiana do not include 44 terrestrial plants listed in the regulation signed into law by Gov. Eric Holcomb in April 2020.

More about the rule:Rule bans sale of 44 plant species in Indiana

“We are making good headway with most of our dealers and nurseries,” Abraham recently told The Herald-Times. 

But there are some retailers, usually chain stores where other companies supply the plants sold in the gardening section, that sometimes have one or two invasive plants for sale. It’s often difficult to determine who is ordering those plants and contact them, Abraham said.

“They are probably distributing the plants to most of the Midwest,” she said. “It could be someone on the other side of the country.”

Those people often have no idea the sale of some plants is prohibited in Indiana, Abraham said.

But if someone in a store notices a plant that’s on the terrestrial invasive plant species list, Abraham hopes they will contact her division, at depp@dnr.in.gov, so they can remove the plants from store shelves as soon as possible. 

“Let us know which location you’re at, which store and what you saw. We’ll give that information to the inspector and get them out there.”

Once a state inspector finds prohibited species, those plants are destroyed. They are not shipped back to the company, Abraham said.

Destroying the plants sends a message. If enough plants are destroyed, the company usually pays attention.

“Economically, it’s not a good idea to send us plants just so we can destroy them,” Abraham said.

The autumn olive plant produces colorful berries in the summer. Birds eat the berries and the seeds are left in new areas, allowing the plant to spread, which is a problem since it is one of the more invasive non-native plants in Indiana. It's on the list of plants that cannot be sold in the state.

When the terrestrial plant regulation first went into effect state officials educated people at nurseries and garden centers about the changes — before invasive plants were destroyed in most cases. The law went into effect over the course of several months, and implementation was a slow process.

Not all plants considered invasive in Indiana are on the list. Many of the plants on the list were once desirable, such as Asian bush honeysuckle.

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