Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Spring Things - Invasion of the Aliens

They can be beautiful. They can be fragrant.

They are also deadly.

It's the invasion of the aliens - the alien plants, the invasives.  If you have a back yard, chances are you have one invasive species in it.  These invaders crowd out native plants and change our environment.  They can have adverse impacts on wildlife.  They tend to be fast growers.  The most famous invasive may be kudzu but there are lot of other aliens lurking out there in a backyard or vacant lot near you.

Some examples of invasives now blooming here in upstate New York:
Russian Olive. (taken on the Vestal Rail Trail, our local rail trail. That is far from the only invasive species on that trail - soon enough, the rugosa roses will be in bloom.  Yes, another invasive.)
Honeysuckle (taken on banks of Susquehanna River, downtown Binghamton, New York.)

A different honeysuckle (same location).

And finally, wisteria.  Not all wisterias are invasive, but Japanese wisteria is invasive in a lot of the East Coast of the United States.  In March, you can see this beautiful purple bloom up in trees in parts of South Carolina and Georgia. Problem is, it also kills the trees, as does Chinese wiseria.  I found this specimen of wisteria today on the West Side of Binghamton in an ornamental situation, and this may not be one of the invasive species.  I certainly hope it is.

What invasive plants are a problem in your area?


  1. Wow! All these are invasives in your area? I had no idea. I've planted honeysuckle bushes and Russian olive trees and I'd dearly lovely a wisteria vine! But the invasives here in Nebraska are not nearly so pretty--thistles, native cedar trees, thorny locusts---that's what we spend our time grubbing out and trying to get rid of. Nothing pretty!

  2. Ouch. I remember Russian Olive being popular when I lived in Wichita. I think, in Nebraska, it is only considered a problem if you are near a river or stream. Not all honeysuckles are invasive, but it is a problem in our area. We also have some nasty invasives here such as giant hogweed. It is so hazardous that the NY Health Department website has information on how to handle it and, in its early stages, can look like less hazardous plants. At least we don't have mile-a-minute plant, which I first saw in a Civil War site in Maryland.

  3. Are you sure it is rugosa roses that will be in bloom? Multiflora rose is a much more common invasive in this area. They're not shrubs, but garlic mustard and wild parsnip are also problems, as well as Japanese bamboo.

    1. You are most probably right. You are a lot more knowledgeable than I am. I'll take pictures when they bloom.

  4. I love, love, love wisteria. I don't care how invasive it is.


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