Avoid Introducing Invasive Plants to Your Landscape

A Blog Story About Nature in Our DuPage Forest Preserves

Avoid Introducing Invasive Plants to Your Landscape

Posted by Forest Preserve District of DuPage County | 5/14/18 12:25 PM

Many nurseries and garden centers unknowingly sell invasive landscape plants to unsuspecting consumers. These invasives can escape from your yard and wreak havoc on natural areas and the native wildlife using them as habitat.  

How do you know if a plant or tree is invasive? A simple search of internet with search terms like “Bradford pear invasive” can bring up the information you need to make an informed choice.

There are also many native alternatives to popular plants found at nurseries. Here’s more information about some common landscape plants and trees.

Bradford pear (Pyrus calleryana)
Bradford pears have cross-pollinated with other pears and produced viable seed, which are spread into natural areas by birds. Bradford pears compete well against native plants because they leaf out early. These pears are also poor investment, as they typically live only 20 years and their limbs break easily in storms.

Native alternatives: 
• Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea) produces showy white blooms in April and a small red fruit edible by people and wildlife.
• Redbuds (Cercis canadensis) are quick growing with lavender early-spring flowers and attractive green summer foliage.
• Wild plum (Prunus americana) has showy white blooms in spring.

Bradford pear courtesy of wikimedia commons

Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii)
Barberry’s distinctive red fruits are spread by birds and plants quickly established dense colonies in woodlands that crowd out native plants. Barberry overpowers native species by altering soil pH and nitrate levels, creating conditions that are beneficial for its growth alone.

Native alternative: Winterberry holly (Ilex verticillata) is a beautiful shrub with showy red berries in winter.
japanese-barberry-wikimedia-commonsJapanese barberry courtesy of wikimedia commons

Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus)
The plant’s fast growing vines can cover, shade and outcompete native plants. It can even girdle and kill trees. Birds and other wildlife eat the fruit and distributing the seeds. These are often sold in fall flower arrangements.

Native alternative: Climbing Bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) is a twining woody vine best known for its showy red berries in fall and winter.
oriental-bittersweetOriental bittersweet courtesy of forestryimages.org

Burning bush (Euonymus alatus)
Burning bush invade old fields, roadsides and woodlands and form dense thickets that choke out native plants.

Native alternatives:
• Blackhaw (Viburnum prunifolium) have small white flowers and dark blue berries.
• Wahoo (Euonymus atropurpureus) grows as a large shrub and has beautiful fall color and fruit.

burning-bush-forestry-imagesBurning bush courtesy of forestryimages.org

Topics: Insider, Plants, Conservation, Invasive, Native Plant Sale, Trees

Written by Forest Preserve District of DuPage County

The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County welcomes more than 6.2 million visitors a year; and manages nearly 26,000 acres in 60 forest preserves containing prairies, woodlands and wetlands.