Invasive Plant Species

There is an invasion happening in our country but it’s not the kind that you see in Hollywood blockbusters. This particular invasion is happening quietly in our forests and backyards and it’s being led by several species of invasive plants.

Executive Order 13112 defines an invasive species as one which is “non-native (or alien) to the ecosystem under consideration and whose introduction does or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.” In the case of invasive plants, the damage comes in the form of fast-growing species that can spread uncontrollably, overwhelming the native flora in their path.

Many of the species in question have become popular in the United States for their low price and adaptability. They grow quickly and they’re an easy way to add a splash of character to a landscape. The problem lies in their ability to move past the site where they are planted and spread into local ecosystems where they can choke out native plants that aren’t able to compete for resources.

Japanese Barberry One example is Japanese barberry, first introduced to North America as an ornamental that made beautiful, living fences and helped to keep out unwanted wildlife. However, in the 1980’s it became a problem when it started growing at exponential rates and forming dense stands that compete with native trees and plants. Another unwanted side effect? Japanese Barberry creates a perfect breeding ground for Lyme-infected ticks who then hitch rides on the rodents and deer who feed on it. Today, Japanese Barberry is increasingly finding its way into “hit lists” as some states make it illegal for nurseries to sell the invasive plant.

Others species being targeted include Autumn Olive, Burning Bush, and Purple Loosestrife to name a few. The good news is that there are plenty of native species that can be used as safer alternatives. Winterberry or Highbush Blueberry, for example, are two potential noninvasive substitutes for Japanese Barberry.

To learn more about these invasive species including help with identification or options for your landscape, contact your SavATree arborist at (800) 341-8733 or contact your arborist by visiting

Click here to return to newsletter homepage