Monday, October 5, 2015

eBay: A Forum for Invasive Plant Trade

Auctions aren't just good for scoring rare collectibles and cheap second-hand items.  Individuals interested in rare and exotic species are using the site to buy and sell live specimens around the world.  Researchers from the Institute of Integrative Biology surveyed eBay and nine other auction websites for flora/plant species over 50 days.  Their survey found that 2,5625 plant species were available for purchase from 65 countries.  Of those species, 510 of them have been documented as an invasive concern somewhere in the world.  In fact, 35 of those species are on the list of top 100 invasive species put out by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.  This type of trade isn't monitored as intensively as shipping plants through typical retail exchanges, and can bring in more than just the desired plant.  People interested in diversifying their garden, should always check if there is a species native to their area that fits their need.  If a native can't be found, research any non-natives for invasive status before buying, as their fun new plant can cause years of battling the invasive tendencies and won't endear you to your neighbors if it spreads to their property.

Tropical soda apple (Solanum viarum) Growing out of a bag of cow manure, in 1991 by Randy Westbrooks, Invasive Species Prevention Specialist,
Original Source Article: How eBay Could Be Messing Up the World’s Ecosystems