, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The vine that ate the South.

Kudzu – The Vine That Ate The South

If you are not looking for another Kudzu disaster, I would recommend NOT planting these 4 invasive species in Coastal North Carolina or anywhere in the United States honestly.

Let us start with the infamous Saltcedar (Tamarix ramosissima). Tamarix ramosissima has naturalized and become a major invasive plant species in parts of the world, consuming large amounts of groundwater in riparian (relating to or situated on the banks of a river) and oasis habitats due to the density of its stands. The high salt level in tamarisk infiltrates the soil, preventing other plants from growing, creating a tamarisk-dominant forest with no understory, void of important habitat for pollinators and other native species. Tamarisk forests also tend to burn hotter than most native riparian trees, worsening the fire hazard of acres of uninterrupted tamarisk and their risk to human structures.

Native To:
Eurasia (Carman and Brotherson 1982)
Date of U.S. Introduction:
Early 1800s (Carman and Brotherson 1982)
Means of Introduction:
Ornamental (Carman and Brotherson 1982)
Impact: Lowers the water table & creates large deposits of salt in the soil (Di Tomaso 1998)

Next on the list is the Thorny-olive (Elaeagnus pungens).

This exotic invasive species (native to Asia) has become a serious ecological pest in North Carolina, displacing native vegetation in many forested and forest edge habitats.  Exotic invasive from Japan, this shrub to small tree grows along wooded edges in suburban areas in the eastern half of North Carolina.

Pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana) is coming for you North Carolina!

What problems does pampas grass cause?

It forms dense, often impenetrable, stands that can damage grazing lands and affect visibility on roads. Pampas grass increases its density and colonizes semi-natural areas in a short period of time, being a threat to native plant diversity. Due to low decomposition rates of standing dead leaves and senescing panicles, it increases fire risk. The sharp leaves can produce superficial cuts and flowers may provoke allergies in summer. Their large size significantly reduces light availability, blocking out native species.

Beach vitex (Vitex rotundifolia) is sea turtles’ enemy!

Beach vitex is a salt-tolerant, perennial, invasive shrub that has naturalized in coastal areas of the southeastern United States. Since its introduction in the 1980s, this Pacific Rim native has invaded many fragile beach-dune ecosystems along the Mid-Atlantic, Southern Atlantic, and Gulf of Mexico. Large-scale monocultures of beach vitex supplant native species through rapid vegetative reproduction and seed production. Fruits are capable of water-based dispersal, allowing for potential rapid range expansion in coastal areas. Ecosystem damage resulting from exclusion of native plant species by beach vitex and fears associated with potential negative effects on sea turtle nesting have served to promote the control and survey efforts presently underway in coastal areas of the Carolinas, Virginia, and Maryland.

Here are some sites that will help you find native plants to your area.

Audubon – https://www.audubon.org/native-plants

Native Plant Finder – https://www.nwf.org/nativePlantFinder/plants

U.S. Forest Service – https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/Native_Plant_Materials/Native_Gardening/index.shtml

People remember, before you seed, read! :] Knowledge is power.

– Mushpa (aka Cara)