These are non-native plants that can become invasive and overrun an area because the enemies that kept them in control in their native environment do not exist here. Just ask anyone from the southern United States about kudzu, a Japanese vine that was introduced to this country in 1876. There is a good reason why kudzu is called "the vine that ate the South."
In spite of all the publicity in recent years about the dangers of invasive plants and in spite of increased awareness on the part of consumers, there are still a number of these plants that are routinely sold at nurseries large and small around the country. Here is a list of sixteen of potentially invasive plants that you should steer clear of and never add to your garden.
- Wisteria sinensis
- Phyllostachys spp. (Running bamboo)
- Euonymus fortunei (Winter creeper)
- Hedera helix (English ivy)
- Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle) - My next door neighbor actually has this sweet smelling vine in her yard and I wage yearly war against its encroachment into mine.
- Euonymus Alatus (Winged burning bush)
- Nandina domestica (Nandina/Sacred bamboo)
- Ligustrum sinense (Chinese privet)
- Eleagnus umbellata (Autumn olive)
- Pyrus calleryana (Bradford pear) - This is one of the most overused plants in our area, often used by developers and their landscapers in new housing developments.
- Vinca minor (Common periwinkle)
- Berberis thunbergeii (Japanese barberry)
- Paulownia tomentosa (Princess tree/Royal paulownia)
- Clematis ternifolia (Sweet autumn clematis) - I actually planted this in my garden several years ago, ignorant of its non-native status and its capacity to become invasive.
- Eragrostis curvula (Weeping lovegrass)
- Spiraea japonica (Japanese spirea/Japanese meadowsweet)
All of these plants are lovely to look at and many of them smell very sweet. In their native lands, they would be perfectly acceptable choices for a conscientious landscaper/gardener. But here, where they have no natural enemies, they can quickly outcompete native plants and become the dominant plant in an area with dire consequences for the ecosystem as a whole.
It behooves each of us, as responsible gardeners, to educate ourselves about any plant we are considering adding to our landscape and to make sure that we are not unleashing another "kudzu" on the world.