Weeds and "No Spray" Practices
Do you think weeds are a nuisance? They can be, but here at Berea College we embrace all the plants that call our campus home. Many plants considered weeds are actually beneficial to local ecosystems and food chains. For instance, dandelions are some of the first plants to bloom in the spring, providing bees the nutrients to survive through the last cold snaps of the season. Other weeds you might find on campus that are beneficial to our wild friends are milkweed, which is essential to the survival of Monarch butterfly pupae, and wild clover, another favorite of bees and other insect pollinators.
We use “No Spray” practices on our main campus, which means that our Grounds Management Team does not use pesticides or herbicides to kill insects or plants. Many of these lawn care products contain toxic chemicals that can be absorbed by the skin, ingested, or inhaled. Such exposure has been linked to allergic reactions, cancer and birth defects. Therefore, we allow all native plants to grow, while maintaining a tidy landscape.
However, the Grounds Management Team does make an effort to remove non-native plants, as they can have detrimental effects on local ecosystems beyond their potential benefits to pollinators. Bush honeysuckle is one such non-native, “invasive” plant. Even though it blooms and provides nectar to insects and birds, it also chokes out native plants by growing more quickly. Find out more about non-native and invasive plants in your area by going to the National Invasive Species Information Center.