Hi, nature lovers! Welcome to this week's nature column. This week I wanted to talk about an interesting phenomenon—invasive species. Now, we all know how important it is to protect nature, but sometimes nature can be a danger to itself! Invasive species are plants that come from abroad, spread, and cause harm to local plants. Case in point: the plant Mikania micrantha, also known as the "mile-a-minute weed," which is taking over Taiwan's nature parks.
The plant, which originally comes from South America, grows at an incredible speed, hence its nickname. After flowering, the plant also produces a large number of very light seeds that are easily spread by the wind, animals, insects, or humans. In addition, sections of the plant can take root independently, helping it spread over a large area.
Mikania micrantha is so unwelcome because as it spreads, it clings to other plants until it covers them completely. This effectively chokes the plants, blocking their sunlight and slowly killing them.
Things have gotten so bad in Taiwan that the government has had to hire volunteers to help clear Mikania micrantha from heavily affected areas. It's strange to think that even though we humans do a lot of damage to the environment, Mother Nature does sometimes shoot herself in the foot as well! Get in touch with your nearest nature park and find out if there's anything you can do to help fight this green cancer!