What are weeds and why do we care?
Description of a Weed
There are numerous definitions of a weed, including:
- A plant out of place and not intentionally sown
- A plant growing where it is not wanted
- A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered. (R.W.Emerson)
- Plants that are competitive, persistent, pernicious, and interfere negatively with human activity (Ross, et. al.)
Weeds are troublesome in many ways. There are approximately 250,000 species of plants worldwide; of those, about 3% or 8000 species behave as weeds. Weeds have a controversial nature and are common on all 485 million acres of U.S. cropland and almost one billion acres of range and pasture. So, weed lists as you might imagine, can be helpful.
So what does make a weed a 'Noxious weed'?
According to the Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board the term ‘noxious weed’ is the traditional, legal term for invasive, non-native plants that are so aggressive they harm our local ecosystems or disrupt agricultural production. These plants crowd out the native species that fish and wildlife depend on. They also cost farmers, orchardists and ranchers millions of dollars in control efforts and lost production – and that can make the food we buy more expensive.
So while ordinary weeds may be annoying, noxious weeds are a genuine threat to the natural resources, ecology and economy of our state.