This is the booklet no Massachusetts landowner should be without. Nor should anyone involved in landscaping, horticulture, or the movement of plant material be unfamiliar with the information it contains. It is very useful to those outside of the Commonwealth concerned about invasive plants in the Northeastern United States but it has particular relevance to the Bay State, for the species described within its pages are subject to importation restriction and are either banned for sale in Massachusetts already or will be phased out by January 1, 2009. The full list of 140 species on the Massachusetts Prohibited Plants List can be found here.
66 plants evaluated by the Massachusetts Invasive Plant Advisory Group (MIPAG) and found to be invasive or likely to become so in the Commonwealth are given full page treatments in this booklet. It was produced by a partnership that included the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, The Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, The Nature Conservancy and the New England Wildflower Society. You might think that with state-wide regulation there would be strong resistance from the nursery and landscaping industry, but instead both the process that produced the list and the phase-out of prohibited species have been supported by the key leadership from this sector. The Massachusetts Nursery & Landscape Association; the New England Nursery Association and national leaders from the American Nursery & Landscape Association, all endorse the process which produced the list and were active participants in the effort to find meaningful responses to the problem of invasive species in Massachusetts and the development of science-based evaluation criteria. What began as a shotgun wedding is now an effective partnership, and the result is a much better opportunity to deal with the problem as allies rather than squandering time and resources assigning blame or fighting regulation.
The word has not reached everyone who grows or imports plants for sale in Massachusetts. Jennifer Forman Orth at the Invasive Species Weblog had to contact a favorite plant catalog and inform them that they were selling species in Massachusetts that are banned for import (but I note they still ship to New Hampshire, Jenn, which also has a ban, I believe). The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources recently dealt with a national box store that was selling prohibited invasive horticultural plants imported from nearby Connecticut, which most regrettably has opted not to ban plants deemed important to the nursery industry.
Lead author Paul Somers will be retiring from the Natural Heritage Program in July after many years of exemplary service as the State Botanist, and this book and the years of effort and partnership building that preceded its publication are an important part of his legacy to the Commonwealth. To get your own copy of this information packed guide, contact the Massachusetts Natural Heritage Program at 508/389-6360 (the booklet is free while supplies last but there is a shipping charge), or other providers referenced here.