Here in the southeastern U.S. we are fortunate to have a number of evergreen plants during the winter. Not all of those plants are native, of course, and a few of those non-native ones are even invasive. Since evergreen plants really stand out in the winter, now is a good time to work on removing the invasive ones while you can see them clearly.
I find six evergreen invasive plants in my area: Chinese and Japanese privet (Ligustrum spp.), English ivy (Hedera helix), autumn olive (Elaeagnus spp.), mahonia (Mahonia bealei), heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica), and Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica).
These are all woody plants and can be removed in various ways. If they are young and small, try pulling them out now while the ground is relatively moist (wear gloves to ensure good traction and minimize any reaction – plants like English ivy can cause a rash).
Once you learn how to recognize seedlings, pulling them up and stuffing them in your pockets is a good way to get rid of them early. Sometimes I forget to take them out and well-washed seedlings tumble out of the washer, dead as a doorknob.
If they are too large to pull, you can cut them down or cut into their bark to reveal the cambium layer and carefully apply (consider using a foam paintbrush) a bit of brush killer on the stump or cut area. At the very least, remove any berries on the plant and mark the plants with some bright string or flagging tape (available at home improvement stores) so that you can come back to remove them properly when you have help. Bag up any berries and place them in the trash.
Interested in identifying other invasives? This is a good website – detailed photos for identification and links to learn more about methods of control for invasive plants in the Eastern United States. Plants are listed both by common name and by scientific name – use your browser’s “Find” function to search for what you’re looking for (but be aware that the common name be not be the same as what you know it as, so search by scientific name if possible).
Removing invasive plants is good for the local environment and something we all can do. Each plant that we remove, each seed that we take out of circulation, opens up an opportunity for a locally native plant to grow and thrive. Each locally native plant that grows is a means of support to local insects and birds.
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