Do you enjoy the fragrance of a honeysuckle bush? Many of us do. Unfortunately, many of the plants we enjoy, and that are common to where we live (including honeysuckle), are actually invasive plants and do not belong in our area. These plants are called “invasive” because they have the ability to thrive and spread aggressively outside their natural range. An invasive species that colonizes a new area may gain an ecological edge since the insects, diseases, and foraging animals that naturally keep its growth in check in its native range are not present in its new habitat.
A naturally aggressive plant may be especially invasive when it is introduced to a new habitat. It is considered harmful because it frequently thrives at the expense of native species. A few of the more well known invasive plants include Japanese honeysuckle, kudzu, Scotch broom, tree-of-heaven, and the Russian olive tree.
While some invasive plants are worse than others, many continue to be admired by gardeners who may not be aware of their weedy nature. Others are recognized as weeds but property owners fail to help prevent their spread. Some do not even become invasive until they are neglected for a long time. Invasive plants are not all equally invasive. Some only colonize small areas and do not do so aggressively. Other invasive plants may spread and come to dominate large areas in just a few years. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of invasive plants affecting all ecosystems, including wetlands, pastures, and woodlands. You can do your part by making sure not to plant or encourage invasive plants on your property.