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Former Chatham residents write book about invasive plants

Posted Monday, April 2, 2007

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Chatham County, NC - The first national guide to invasive plants has been written by two former residents of Chatham County and will be published by Stackpole Books later this month. Dr. Sylvan Kaufman, a plant ecologist, is a native of Chatham County and her father Wallace Kaufman lived and worked in Chatham for 34 years. They wrote Invasive Plants to introduce Americans to an environmental issue that has been called the second most important challenge in public natural areas.

Americans spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year to manage invasive plants, but the authors note that many invasives bring economic and aesthetic benefits, and that eradicating invasive plants is nearly impossible.

In their book they provide a key to identifying over 175 of the most common invasives, including many found in North Carolina. “Identification, however, is only the first step,” says Wallace Kaufman, an award winning science writer. “Understanding the plant’s origins and travels and its role in the natural environment and economy helps explain the human factor and evaluate management options and priorities.”

Sylvan Kaufman serves as Conservation Curator for Adkins Arboretum in Ridgely, MD and holds an undergraduate degree from Vassar and a Ph.D. in ecology from Rutgers University. Wallace Kaufman created several thousand acres of rural residential communities in Orange and Chatham County with unique environmental covenants, including Saralyn north of Pittsboro, NC and Redbud on the Haw River east of Pittsboro. He is a former Science Writing Fellow at the Marine Biology Lab at Woods Hole, MA and currently lives in and manages his 200 acre forest in Linn County, Oregon. His last book was a memoir of life and history in Chatham County, Coming Out of the Woods (Perseus Books, 2000)

You can listen to our podcast interview with Wallace Kaufman at

Former Chatham residents write book about invasive plants
Wallace and Sylvan in 1970

Related info:
Interview with Wallace Kaufman podcast

Invasive Plant Guide

Wallace Kaufman