Consumers willing to pay extra for non-invasive plants?

I was initially excited by the title of a new research article by Yue et al., “Do native and invasive labels affect consumer willingness to pay for plants? Evidence from experimental auctions” published in Agricultural Economics (2011) 42:195-205.  But after reading the definitions they used for native and invasive and seeing the plants they chose to test, I’m not sure whether this study does much to answer the title’s question.  Their plant pairings were:

  • Dianthus armeria with Dianthus repens
  • Daucus carota with Daucus pucillus
  • Oxalis vulcanicola with Oxalis crassipes
  • Gaura coccinea with Gaura lindheimeri
  • Epilobium angustifolium (MN genotype with E. angustifolium (AK genotype)

If the people chosen for the survey knew what these plants were it is unlikely that they would view them as a very invasive.  I’m not familiar with survey research using experimental auctions, but maybe it would have been better to make up a list of imaginary plants and label them as invasive or not invasive.  It it isn’t clear whether the participants were asked about their specific knowledge of the plants or not.  The question though is an important one as more states are contemplating labeling invasive plants in the horticulture industry, so I hope someone redoes this study.

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