Invasive species don’t belong in U.S. gardens

By Tom Lollis

Some plants just don’t belong in South Carolina lawns and gardens. Many species from Asia have become environmental nightmares in the United States, according to Vaughan Spearman, Clemson Extension forestry and wildlife agent in Jasper County.

“Kudzu is the perfect example of an invasive species,” Spearman said. “It was brought into this country by the federal government to control erosion and it just got out of hand.”

Another invasive species is Dutch elm disease. A 1926 furniture shipment brought in the bark beetle that spread the disease and killed the American elm tree.

“Problem plants are still arriving,” Spearman said. Garden plants from Asia or South America pose a significant threat to gardens and natural areas. “They will eliminate all competing vegetation in a very short time.”

Other invasive plants include timber bamboo, privet, wisteria, nandina, honeysuckle, parasol tree and tallow tree. Except for the parasol tree, each of these plants is listed on the federal noxious weed list, as well as the state invasive species list.

“Try to find native or sterile substitutes for these plants, and encourage your favorite nursery to do the same,” Spearman said.

For more information: Vaughan Spearman, 843-726-3461, or