Non-native and invasive (NNI) plants pose a serious problem and health threat to our forests. These invading plants can quickly take over your forestland. If not controlled, NNI plants will:

NNI plants are particularly a problem in the South, which has a warm and moist climate that promotes the establishment of these plants and their rapid growth. Also, since the winters often are mild with only slight die-back from freezes or frosts, these plants can over-winter and quickly rebound in the spring. Hurricanes and tropical storms can also spread the plant seeds across the southern U.S. landscape.

A few examples of NNI plants that create problems in our forests:

Grasses
  • Chinese silvergrass (miscanthus)
  • Cogangrass
  • Japanese stiltgrass (microstegium)
Shrubs
  • Autumn olive
  • Bamboo
  • Privet
Trees
  • Mimosa (silktree)
  • Princesstree (pawlonia)
  • Tree-of-heaven (ailanthus)
Vines
  • Chinese/Japanese wisteria
  • Honeysuckle
  • Kudzu

There are dozens of NNI plants now identified in the U.S., and so they can’t all be listed in this leaflet. Your county forestry, agricultural and natural resource specialists can assist you. There is also a lot of information on the Internet about how to identify and control NNI plants:

North Carolina State University and Cooperative Extension Service
Identify NNI plants and learn how to substitute native plants for wildlife benefits
The Nature Conservancy
Multiple references on NNI plants including the use of herbicides to control them
“Nonnative Invasive Plants of the Southern Forests”
A full-color field identification and control booklet from the USDA Forest Service
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
Learn the life cycle and geographic ranges of all plants across the United States

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Published in March 2009

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