Assessment and Management of Plant Invasions

Part of the series Springer Series on Environmental Management pp 18-25

Defining Weeds of Natural Areas

  • John M. Randall

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Weeds are usually defined in the negative: they are plants that are not wanted. Of course, which plants are wanted and which are unwanted depends on the setting and sometimes on individual prejudices and tastes. In this sense, the termweedis subjective and personal. Where there is a clear, agreed-upon vision of which species are wanted and, better yet, the level of productivity desired—as in a corn field—much of this subjectivity disappears. Here, any plants that might suppress the corn or otherwise limit its productivity are unwanted and therefore weeds. In this chapter I will argue that managers of parks, preserves, and other natural areas should likewise clearly articulate what they are managingforand only then attempt to determine which species interfere with management goals or have the potential to do so in the future (Schwartz and Randall 1995). These species can appropriately be designated asweedsorpestsor some other term with negative connotations. The label chosen is less important than the process used to identify and manage the problem-causing plants.