Maine invasive plant biologist Catherine Spolarich in the field, where she is studying the invasive Japanese knotweed. (Courtesy of Catherine Spolarich)

BELFAST – In a free Belfast Garden Club lecture Tuesday, April 18, Maine biologist Catherine Spolarich will discuss the important role home gardeners and horticulturists can play in preventing the spread of invasive plants and supporting biodiversity.

The one-hour program, entitled “A Gardener’s Guide to Action on Invasive Plants,” is free to the public. The talk is the seventh of nine garden club lectures for 2023 and the last until October.  

Spolarich will speak in person at noon in the Abbott Room at the Belfast Free Library, 106 High Street. Those who wish to join from home may attend via Zoom. For more information and to register for the Zoom link, visit

An invasive plant is defined as one not native to a particular area, whose introduction can damage the environment and cause harm in other ways, including pushing out native plants. Most invasive species—Norway maples and the Rugosa rose, for example – were intentionally planted because they grow quickly, lack pests, flower prolifically, or have other desirable traits, Spolarich says.

“Unfortunately, some of these same traits allow them to outcompete other vegetation, negatively affecting the home garden and the broader landscape,” she says.

Spolarich is the invasive plant biologist at Maine Natural Areas Program, a division of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. In her work, she supports efforts to map, manage, educate, and provide resources to prevent the spread of invasive plants. She formerly researched invasive plant ecology at Cornell University in New York and helped design, install, and maintain gardens on coastal Long Island.

Founded in 1928, the Belfast Garden Club promotes the knowledge and love of gardening, the protection of native flora and fauna, and the importance of civic beautification.