Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Beware -- Popular Species that are Actually Invasive!

The eastern United States is the perfect target for these attractive varieties of rapidly spreading and difficult to control plants. Every species on the following list are being willingly introduced by the hundreds of thousands each year to landscapes from Texas to North Carolina for their vigor and tasteful appearance, but many homeowners don’t realize their mistake until years later when the land clearing professionals must be called in. Being familiar with these harmless looking varieties can prevent your yard from being the next victim.  The expensive damage done to home landscaping is nothing compared to the invasion that is being suffered by millions of acres of prized Eastern forest. 

Chinese Privet 

The famous hardy hedges of Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia are an iconic and historical living monument for Bulldog fans, but outside of the stadium they are considered a weed that must be constantly and vigorously eradicated. These “shrubs” can become trees that can grow up to 20 feet tall, producing extremely hard to remove stumps. Since the fruit produced by these shrubs lack a significant amount of nutritional value for wildlife, birds tend to eat more than usually necessary which spreads these fast growing nuisances at an alarming rate. Regardless, they are increasingly popular in Georgia suburbs where garden-savvy neighbors have to take on the task of pulling up new sprouts every few days. 


Exotic varieties of Wisteria are bought throughout the southeast, from Texas to North Carolina, where they proliferate much to the distress of these unknowing homeowners. These destructive beauties are known to “infest” trees, girdling them with thick vines and choking off growth. Quick spreading, any tiny bit of root system left behind is likely to sprout more the next growing season. In order to successfully maintain an exotic Wisteria vine, you must be able to mow around each side and heavily pruned in the fall. American wisteria is not as attractive but is a wonderful native substitute. 

Bradford Pear

Originally marketed as a sterile decorative tree, these short-term investments ended up being popular for lining streets and parkways. The years passed, and a tendency of the tree to self-destruct during high winds or snowfall quickly changed the minds of city planners. It was unfortunately much too late and the Bradford pear had already become a popular flowering tree for many residential landscapes. 

Many of the cultivars produced today are no longer sterile, and produce fruit which propagate the trees at a rate that is uncontrollable. You can find these ornamental pears spreading along ditches, and seedlings that infiltrate neighborhoods produce sprouts with thorny undesirable traits. Flowering dogwoods are a wonderful native variety if you don’t want to a tree removal service for one or more weather-destroyed Bradford Pears.  

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