Do Not Plant Wildflower Seeds From Cheerios, Scientists Warn
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The declining bee population in the United States made waves and incited panic to some. After all, pollinating plants and flowers relied heavily on the buzzing insects. In an effort to help the dwindling population, Cheerios used its bee mascot, Buzz, to send out free wildflower seed packets to families across the country.
While this decision is rooted on a positive message, the move can be dangerous, as some of these flowers could be considered invasive species to some areas of the country. The diversity of the U.S. climate makes it dangerous to plant wildflowers at random.
Yahoo noted that among the seeds included in the giveaway are forget-me-nots, which are banned in Massachusetts for being a noxious weed. The California poppy, another species offered, is considered an invasive plant in Southeastern states. Many of these seed types are not even native to the U.S., which means that they may not be too helpful for the bee population.
Ecologist Kathryn Turner told Lifehacker that invasive species tend to out-compete native plants they encounter, even take up their resources. These, among other reasons, can have a detrimental effect on native species and humans instead. Turner also explained that while no plant is "bad" species can still cause a great deal of damage if introduced in locations outside their natural or native range.
General Mills, producer of Cheerios, said in a statement that the flower varieties "were selected for their flowers which produce nectar and pollen that are attractive to bees and other pollinators." Among the seed mixtures included in the packets were said to include annuals, biennials and perennials that produce flowers in different colors that can be grown throughout the seasons.
"The seed varieties in the mix are not considered invasive," the statement continued. For the "Bring Back the Bees 2017" project, General Mills partnered with Veseys Seeds, which also offered gardening tips and seeds for sale on its own website.