Natural Connections – The dangers of garden escapes
The Cumbernauld Living Landscape team have been hard at work recently working with volunteers to make improvements to Ravenswood Local Nature Reserve. Part of this job has involved digging up some of the garden escape plants that have found their way onto the site and replacing them with native wildflowers.
We had hoped that some of the plants we removed could have been donated to volunteers and local charities, however while we were digging we made a very unpleasant discovery – New Zealand Flatworms.
These are an invasive species which have made their way to Scotland from – you guessed it – New Zealand via garden centres. They don’t look like much, about 5cm long, flattened brown bodies with a lighter fringe and pale underside. Looks don’t tell you everything however, they are voracious predators, targeting our native earthworms which have no defence against them.
Flatworms are capable of exterminating earthworms from an area – and without earthworms to break up the soil this can lead to flooding and drainage issues and prevents plants growing healthily. They also cause problems for many of our native species, like Robins, which eat earthworms.
We removed 100 adults and dozens of glossy black eggs – each egg can contain 10 young – from a small patch and destroyed the plants and the flatworms. Moving plants from gardens to reserves or wild spaces spreads pests and diseases like these around and you can do your bit by keeping your garden plants in your garden and enjoying the native wildflowers out in the wild.