What do you think of when I mention exotic and invasive plants? I bet most of you would say kudzu! The plant that ate the south! Kudzu is but one of many introduced plant species that have become invasive and caused native plant communities harm by smothering them and colonizing their natural habitat. Exotic plant invasives are a real problem across the country, not just in the south or Tennessee. There are alternative plants for ornamental use you can substitute for the invasives. For instance, did you know
Euonymus alata, aka Burning Bush is considered
invasive? A good native alternative would be Aronia
arbutifolia, aka red chokeberry. Substituting native
plants for exotic invasives is but one way you can control the spread of the invasives; management of the
land is another.
Some of you may be familiar with Nick-a-Jack lake near Chattanooga. The above picture is of the sunset on Nick-a-Jack lake. I wasn't familiar with this lake until my college instructor (Nancy) mentioned a project she is working on with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and the developer of Nick-a-Jack lake. It seems the TVA is allowing a developer to develop the natural area around Nick-a-Jack Lake with some stipulations. TVA has contracted the area surrounding the lake to an elevation of 250 feet will be restored to its original native condition and maintained in this condition indefinitely. If the surrounding bank of the lake rises straight up to 250 feet within 10 feet of the lake or whether it gently slopes up to 250 feet within 1000 feet of the lake does not matter, this area is to be restored over a five year period.
Nancy is working on the project and has developed a plan to remove the exotic invasives like Chinese privet (Ligustrum), multiflora roses, greenbriar (Smilax) and poison ivy. While some invasives are native, even native plants can become nuisances in the wrong places by choking out other native plants. Such is the case with the greenbriar. Removing invasives is not an easy or fun task. Have you ever tried to walk through the woods and been scratched by multiflora roses and tangled in Japanese honeysuckle? I have and it is not pleasant. I am glad to hear of governmental agencies taking a proactive stance in doing something about the exotics and invasives in our area.
In your own garden please be mindful of the consequences of plants you plant and always, always know what you are planting BEFORE planting it. Invasive tendencies aside, you don't want to plant something you know nothing about and wind up with your house disappearing under a tangle of vines. If you have exotics like multiflora roses-rip them out!
To find out more about exotic plants in Tennessee check out the list at:
in the garden....