Many of the most invasive plant species thriving in the United States came from elsewhere—mostly Europe and Asia. While they are often beautiful, these plants spread rapidly in an environment that has not evolved to keep its growth in balance. If left unchecked, invasive species can create devastating changes to both landscapes and ecosystems.
Commonly seen vine throughout the southeastern United States, the perennial kudzu originally hails from Asia. Although the United States Department of Agriculture believes that kudzu spreads up to 150,000 acres annually, the Forest Service estimates that the weed spreads by 2,500 acres per year.
2. English Ivy.
English ivy was brought to America by colonists who sought to recreate the charms of their native landscaping. In its new environment, ivy quickly became an invasive, and destructive, covering (even eventually toppling) trees, and supplanting native species in forests and open areas.
Though it is a commonly used shrub by landscapers, both common barberry and Japanese barberry are banned in many areas of the United States. Introduced to the country in the late 1800s, not only is it invasive, but it provides an ideal hiding place for deer ticks, which can carry Lyme Disease.
4. Butterfly Bush.
Butterfly bush offers much-needed nectar for pollinators like butterflies and bees, but it is also considered a noxious weed in many states, where it pushes out native species and spreads into uncultivated areas where it is not wanted.
5. Black Locust.
Black locust spreads quickly, and is also short lived. Its branches are brittle and break easily when exposed to high winds. As a result of its ability to propagate quickly, it is considered invasive and is on the do-not-plant list in many localities throughout the country.
6. Common Buckthorn.
Like so many invasive species, Common Buckthorn was introduced to this nation’s gardens by well-meaning botanists in the late 19th century. Besides crowding out native shrubs, it plays host to many pests, and the decomposition of its leaf litter can change the pH of the surrounding soil, which can cause problems for other nearby plants.
7. Burning Bush.
Known for its bright red, fall color, burning bush is a popular landscaping shrub throughout North America. It has many invasive traits, however, that allow it to spread aggressively. It’s not recommended for planting near uncultivated areas, and may end up on official invasive species lists in the near future.