The new and unusual plant at your local garden center may have its roots in Asia or Africa. Many of the plants for sale in New Jersey have been introduced from other continents. Some of these introduced plants have the ability to thrive and spread aggressively, invading habitats and replacing native plants. These “invasive” plants end up causing harm to both the environment and the economy.

Butterfly bush is a popular landscaping plant but is considered an invasive, nuisance plant. © Steiermark Sommerflieder-Strauch

Butterfly bush is a popular landscaping plant but is considered an invasive, nuisance plant. © Steiermark Sommerflieder-Strauch

Scientists suspect that an invasive plant has a competitive edge over native plants, since the insects, diseases, and animals that naturally control its growth in its native range are often not present in its introduced area. New Jersey’s native animals depend on native plants for food, shelter, and nesting sites. When invasive plants replace the natives, the entire ecosystem can be disrupted. Habitat changes caused by invasive species have led to the decline of about 42% of the threatened and endangered species in the United States.

These ecological impacts also have a tremendous economic cost. Invasive species are costing the United States more than $120 billion in damages and control costs every year. Here in New Jersey, the economic impact on agriculture was recently estimated to be $290 million per year. Invasive plants alone have damaged over 100 million acres in the United States, equal to an area about the size of California.

Not sure which plants are invasive in New Jersey?

The New Jersey Invasive Species Strike Team (NJISST) has extensive information about how to identify and eradicate the invasive plants in our state. The NJISST Do Not Plant List identifies which plants to keep out of your Jersey-Friendly Yard.

Some Top Invasive Plants to Avoid Planting in Your Yard

Wisteria sinensis (Chinese Wisteria)
Wisteria floribunda (Japanese Wisteria)
Clematis ternifolia (Japanese clematis)
Hedera helix (English Ivy)
Lonicera japonica (Japanese Honeysuckle)
Amphelopsis brevipedunculata (Porcelainberry)
Acer platanoides (Norway maple)
Pyrus calleryana (Callery/Bradford pear)
Euonymus alatus (Winged Burning Bush)
Euonymus fortunei  (Wintercreeper)
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese Barberry)
Buddleia spp (Butterfly Bush)
Viburnum dilatatum (Linden Viburnum)
Spiraea japonica (Japanese Meadowsweet)
Miscanthus sinensis (Chinese Silvergrass)

Beautiful But Invasive

Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) is a wetlands plant introduced to North America from Europe and Asia in the Purple-Loosestrife-invadiing-wetlands1800s. Planted in home gardens for its attractive flowers and medicinal uses, it began spreading along roads, drainage ditches, and canals. Purple Loosestrife thrives in wet areas, and its seeds are easily carried by moving water. Once established, it spreads rapidly, growing in thick stands that crowd out cattails, rushes, and other native wetland plants, which birds, frogs, toads, turtles, and other animals need for food, cover, and nesting sites.

A Jersey-Friendly Yard can help stop the spread of invasive plants
in two ways.

  • Prevention
    Avoid planting anything on the NJISST Do Not Plant List in your yard. Surprisingly, some invasive plants are still for sale in New Jersey as landscape plants.
  • Control and Management
    Check your yard for the presence of these invasive plants and remove them. Replace them with New Jersey native plants and help conserve our native wildlife!

Get Involved as a “Citizen Scientist.”

The New Jersey Invasive Species Strike Team is a non-profit organization working to prevent the spread of emerging invasive species in New Jersey. New Jersey Invasives, an app developed by the Strike Team, enables people with smartphones to identify and report invasive species, whether in their own yards or elsewhere in New Jersey. The information reported through the app will help efforts to detect, map, and control the spread of these economically and environmentally damaging species.

Resources:

NJ Invasive Species Strike Team
The United States National Arboretum
United States Department of Agriculture, National Invasive Species Information Center