Identifying Invasive Plants – How To Spot Invasive Plants In The Garden

Identifying Invasive Plants – How To Spot Invasive Plants In The Garden

By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer

According to the Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States, invasive
plants
are those that “have been introduced by humans, either purposely or
by accident, and have become serious environmental pests.” How to spot invasive
plants? Unfortunately, there is no simple way of identifying invasive plants,
and no common feature that makes them easy to spot, but the following
information should help.

How to Tell if a Species is Invasive

Keep in mind that invasive plants aren’t always ugly. In
fact, many were transported because of their beauty, or because they were
effective, fast-growing groundcovers. Invasive species identification is
further complicated because many plants are invasive in certain areas but
perfectly well-behaved in others.

For example, English
ivy
is beloved in many parts of the U.S., but these fast-growing vines have
created serious problems in the Pacific Northwest and eastern coastal states,
where attempts at control have cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

Resources for Identifying Invasive Plants

The best way to recognize common invasive species is to do
your homework. If you aren’t sure about identifying invasive species, take a
picture and ask experts at your local
cooperative extension office
to help you identify the plant.

You can also find experts at places such as Soil and Water
Conservation, or Departments of Wildlife, Forestry, or Agriculture. Most
counties have weed control offices, especially in agricultural areas.

The Internet provides an abundance of information on
specific invasive species identification. You can also search for resources in
your particular area. Here are a few of the most reliable sources:

Most Common Invasive Species to Watch For

The following listed plants are invasive pests in many areas
of the United States:

  • Japanese spirea (Spiraea japonica)
  • Kudzu (Pueraria montana var. lobata)
  • Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii)
  • Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinense)
  • Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)

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