Invasive, or exotic pest plant species are a serious problem in South Carolina.
Nonnative plant invasions can be seen in natural areas, croplands, rangelands, pastures, forests, wetlands and waterways, wilderness areas, parks and refuges, and highway rights-of-way. Not all non-native plants are invasive. In fact, a large number of our agricultural crops and ornamental plants are non-native (exotic) in origin.
Invasive plant populations can grow, adapt, multiply, and spread to unmanageable levels, often overwhelming entire landscapes. Invasive plants significantly reduce plant diversity (and ecosystem biodiversity) and can be a severe threat to stability and sustainability of our natural systems. Management of invasive, nonnative plant species is difficult and complex. It is estimated that 100 million acres in the United States are already impacted by invasive plant species, requiring costly management. Preventing further spread of invasive plants and recapturing impacted sites is a monumental task that depends on public awareness, support, and participation.
Native: Plants which evolved over thousands of years in a particular habitat without interference from man. All plants in South Carolina were native until Europeans settled the area. (Image: Trumpet Creeper)
Well-adapted: Plants that are thoroughly established yet are not native, have not caused extensive damage or spread. (Image: Azaleas)
Exotic: Plants that have been introduced by human intervention to an area outside of their native habitat but are not invasive. Exotic plants are only a problem when they escape cultivation, spread rapidly and aggressively compete with native species. (Image: Nandina)
Invasive: Plants that have been introduced to an area, established breeding populations, and spread to the extent of damages to agriculture or natural species. (Image: Chinese Privet)
Recent estimates found that 42% of the nation’s endangered and threatened species have declined as a result of encroaching invasives. The direct cost of invasive species to the American economy is estimated at $138 billion per year (Clemson University, Department of Plant Industry, Invasive Species Program).
Never prune or remove aquatic vegetation without first seeking proper guidelines. When using herbicides remember the label is the lawn. Herbicides can be dangerous, so please consult a professional. Dead plant material should be removed from surface waters to reduce nutrient pollution to the waterway.