I've written and deleted a number of comments/observations on this subject but I think it may be time to come out of the lurk mode. The Chicago Botanic Garden has an invasive species committee comprised of representatives of scientists representing conservation biology, horticulture and plant collections. We frequently do not agree and have limited our collective actions with respect to Chicago Botanic Garden to those areas upon which agreement can be reached. I am responding to a very interesting, but ultimately misleading history of the invasion by kudzu. So forgive me while I put on my professors cap and share some factoids about invasive plants. Please understand, quantity of plants planted in proximity (and in) natural areas has a very strong correlation to a non-native species ability to adapt to a new environment. In other words, the greater the number of plants, the higher the likelihood that one or more of them will posses the adaptive characteristics needed to adapt to a new environment. The fact that the US government paid for over 2 million plants to be planted across the South, including abandoned cotton fields that have evolved into what we call natural areas can not be dismissed as clouding the water. The USDA Handbook on Woody Plant Propagation lists a number of current invasive species that were widely recommended for soil erosion and improvement of wildlife habitat, including the woody honeysuckles and buckthorn (initially imported by colonists to make gunpowder). Another factoid from invasive research that is not as widely known as it should be: less than 1% of non-native plants introduced into the USA have become invasive. The last factoid: The financial impact of invasive plant species in North America have an interesting origin. The original costs were based upon the ANTICIPATED impact (no data was ever gathered that I am aware of) of invasion of the Seattle docks district businesses by NORWAY RATS on a dollars lost per square foot basis. This was extrapolated out to cover all of the natural areas in the USA, on a square foot basis. Once I suggested that was not a valid projection the costs associated with spraying pesticides on agricultural fields (weeds, not invasive plants) in the Dakotas were used to 'extrapolate' costs across all of the natural areas in the USA. In other words, if we managed our natural areas as intensively as farmers do to weed them and if there were as many weeds. I haven't been to any National Parks in the last year or so, but last time I visited I don't recall any management practices as intensive as those used by farmers. Like Tony Avent, I have also visited with the USDA scientists and other proponents advocating for a stronger restriction on the importation of plants. During my conversations the prohibition of importation of any/all new plants was identified as the desired objective. For a less than 1% return on investment, we (the USA) are going to disrupt a major industry (yes, ornamental horticulture brings in more revenue than corn and soybeans combined in Illinois) that has a very low level of success? Why is there so much pressure to ascribe blame to the ornamental horticulture industry who will never be in a position to establish plants next to or in natural areas by the millions without government support? It appears to be a feel good effort (do something, even if some facts annoyingly don't support the action). The problem isn't with new plants coming in. It is with the existing non-native plants that are in our natural areas. Boyce Tankersley Director of Living Plant Documentation Co-chair Invasive Species Committee Chicago Botanic Garden 1000 Lake Cook Road Glencoe, IL 60022 tel: 847-835-6841 fax: 847-835-1635 email: firstname.lastname@example.org "However, I think the example of kudzu illustrates the monomania about govt. that I believe hinders useful responses rather than facilitating the outcome that we all ( hopefully ) might like to see. The truth regarding kudzu is somewhat more complex than Tony suggests: " Second, the worst of our invasive plants were researched and introduced intentionally by the US government (kudzu) ."