Plants disperse seeds using an impressive variety of techniques. This helps to maximize the distance between the new plant and the parent, which reduces competition for light, nutrients, and water. Some plants can disperse seeds on their own, while others need hosts or environmental factors to disperse. The most successful plants use a combination of seed dispersal methods, and this is especially true for invasive species.
Humans disperse seed both accidentally and intentionally. Accidental introductions can be avoided if recreationalists:
A study done in Illinois tested the effectiveness of boot brush stations by looking at the seeds found underneath a brush stationed at the head of a trail – they confirmed the presence of over 39 seeds (14 from invasive species). It is important to take the time to clean our gear, pack a boot brush to ensure you always hike responsibly!
Intentional introductions are sometimes done by well-meaning recreationalists looking to beautify a space.
One common mistake made is by those who purchase wildflower seeds to plant in ditches. Many people mistakenly believe they are helping pollinators in doing so. Unfortunately, these packets often contain invasive species, and many packets don't list what species they contain or even misrepresent their contents. Pollinators thrive in rich biodiverse habitats which invasive species do not support. Please never buy wildflower mixes.