New Roles for Nurseries in Management of Invasive Species

Plant nurseries have very important but often unrecognized roles to play in prevention and control of invasive species.  These go beyond just following regulations relating to importing and exporting plants, and control of pests and diseases.  They should also avoid introducing new plants with unknown invasiveness potential, not sell previously introduced plants that are known to be invasive, and report observations of invasive species that appear to be new to the area.

It has been difficult for nurseries to perform these additional roles because the information necessary to carry out these activities may not be readily accessible.  For nurseries such as ours that may need to introduce new species, no mechanisms to get invasiveness risk assessments performed in a timely manner have been available.

Consumers also need access to easily understood information about the invasiveness potential of plants to make better informed planting decisions.


Plant Pono Program Helps Nurseries and Consumers Combat Invasive Species

The Plant Pono program of Hawaii helps nurseries in these additional roles by providing the necessary information resources and a website designed to help the public make good plant buying and planting decisions.


Plant Pono Program









Invasiveness Assessments Available

Users of the website can also submit requests for evaluation of the invasiveness of a plant through the Hawai’i-Pacific Weed Risk Assessment (HPWRA) process and receive a numeric scoring indicating the level of risk posed by the plant.


This diminutive African asclepiad species is our most recent plant introduction.  We had tentatively identified it as Notechidnopsis tessellata and HPWRA has assessed the species as low risk.  After additional efforts to confirm its identification it is more likely to be an unidentified species from the related genus Echidnopsis, which we believe also presents a low risk profile.


Flower of Unidentified Asclepiad Plant, possibly Echidnopsis spp.?

Flower of Unidentified Asclepiad Plant Echidnopsis spp.?
In cultivation at Discovery Harbour, Hawaii
Photo © Edward Rau
Licensed use: CC BY-SA



Plant Pono Nursery Endorsement

The Plant Pono program also endorses nurseries on the Big Island such as ours that make pono commitments and follow Best Management Practices to reduce the spread and introduction of invasive species.


Endorsed nurseries on the Big Island agree to:

  • Discontinue the sale of 42 documented invasive plant species.
  • Follow all state and federal laws related to shipping and selling plants.
  • Allow BIISC to conduct an annual, scheduled nursery visit.
  • Source plants and planting media locally when feasible.
  • Promote the use of non-invasive or native plant species over high-risk plants.
  • When considering introducing a new plant species to the state, nurseries request a free, non-binding assessment from the Hawaii-Pacific Weed Risk Assessment. The HPWRA is a scientific model which predicts a species’ likelihood to become invasive in Hawaii based on the plant’s botany, reproduction, climate suitability, and behavior in similar ecosystems.  It the policy of Sustainable Bioresource’s nursery to obtain assessments form the HPWRA for new species that we propose to introduce or sell in Hawaii, and no plants assessed to be presenting high risk will be introduced.

Endorsed “Pono Businesses” are listed on the program’s website and can display the endorsement logo and signs at their businesses.


Sustainable Bioresources, LLC is proud to be a Pono Business and supports the Plant Program Program.


Logo for Plant Pono Endorsed Nurseries