Invasive Plant Species: Consumer Awareness, Knowledge, and Expectations

in HortScience
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  • 1 Pennsylvania State University, Horticulture, University Park, PA, 16870

Consumers were surveyed at the 2004 Philadelphia Flower Show in Philadelphia, Pa. from 8–10 Mar., to quantify their attitudes and behaviors towards invasive plant species and the potential problems associated with purchasing and planting invasives in the landscape. A majority of the 341 participants (81.5%) was aware that non-native exotic plants were used in the landscape and that these plants may be invasive in natural areas. Less than half (40.1%) acknowledged owning plants that were considered invasive, while one-third (33.5%) did not know. Less than half (41.3%) believed that laws should be passed to prevent sale of non-native exotic plants, while 27.8% believed that laws should be passed to allow sale of only native plants in their area. Three distinct consumer segments were identified using cluster analysis: “Invasive savvy,” participants knowledgeable about invasives and interested in alternative species; “Invasive neutral,” participants neutral in their decision to purchasing alternatives to invasive plants and price sensitive in regard to paying more for plants tested for invasiveness; and “Invasive inactive,” participants opposed to purchasing genetically modified plants or those bred to be seedless. Survey results indicated that media sources (e.g., television and newspapers/magazines/books) would be effective for educating consumers about potential problems associated with invasive species in the landscape.

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