Invasive Plants

What are invasive plants? An invasive plant is one that is non-native or exotic, is introduced to an area, and has no natural predators. Many invasive plants were intentionally brought to North America as ornamentals from other continents. Although these plants often have attractive foliage, flowers or fruit, invasive plants disrupt natural ecosystems from wildlife food sources to habitats, water flow, and soil health. Invasive plants typically have lots of seeds, such as Bradford pear, wisteria, and Chinese elm, and are spread into the woodlands. Other invasive species like kudzu and tallow tree produce a thick canopy and shade out native species and prevent seed germination. Invasive plants displace native species because they are competing for the same limited resources like sunlight, water, nutrients, soil, and space.
The South Carolina Exotic Plant Pest Council is a great resource for identifying and managing invasive plants. In fact, there are currently over 100 plants listed as invasive. Some common plants still being planted in the landscape include: English ivy, Japanese honeysuckle, leatherleaf mahonia, nandina, Chinese privet, autumn-olive, Chinese elm, sawtooth oak, Callery pear/Bradford pear, mimosa, princess tree/royal paulownia, chinaberry, tree of heaven, Chinese wisteria, and pampas grass. If you have any of these please considered removing them and replacing with a native tree, shrub, or grass.
Native grasses, perennials, shrubs, trees, and groundcovers are often the best choices for preserving the ecosystem. These native plants use fewer pesticides and irrigation because they are adapted to the climate, heat, and humidity of our region. When selecting plants to use in the landscape, consider form, mature width and height, site conditions like light, moisture, and hardiness. For helping choosing native plant to replace the invasive plants you have removed, check out the Carolina Yards Plant Database at extension/carolinayards/plant-database/index.html. For more information on invasive plants, please visit the Home and Garden Information Center website at Tune in on Tuesday nights to watch “Making it Grow” at 7 p.m. on SCETV or E-mail Outen at
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