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Invasive plants have become a huge topic of discussion in New England and across the United States. Although I do not believe in removing invasive plants from your existing gardens, I do believe planting invasive plants should be avoided.

When we design, aesthetics often rule our choices, but it is important to consider each plant's potential to invade. Some of the most common invasive plants in Massachusetts might already be in your garden. I have listed them by common name first and then botanical name. I have also included suggestions for plants that are excellent alternatives.

Blunt-leaved privet - Ligustrum obtusifolium

Alternatives:  Ilex decidua, Ilex glabra

bishops weed
Bishop's Weed - Aegopodium podagraria

Alternatives: Ajuga reptans
Burning Bush -Euonymus alatus

Alternatives: Clethra alnifolia, Cotinus obovatus

Japanese Barberry
- Berberis thunbergii

Alternatives: Fothergilla gardenii, Ilex verticillata, Myrica pensylvanica, Ceanothus americanus
Shrub-like Honeysuckles - Lonicera marrowii, maackii, tatarica 

Alternatives: Aronia arbutifolia, Cornus stolonifera, Lindera benzoin, Sambucus pubens
Purple Loosestrife - Lythrum salicaria

Alternatives: Centaurea montana, Salvia nemorosa
Norway maple - Acer platanoides

Alternatives: Acer rubrum, Quercus palustris

This page does not include all the invasive plants,  just the most common for Massachusetts. Plants in the invasive list can still be available at nurseries. The regulations vary by plant and specific dates of importation and propagation set by Massachusetts Department of Agricultual Resources. For further information or a complete list go to:  www.mass.gov/agr or  www.newenglandwild.org

An invasive species—be it plant, animal, or pathogen—is defined by Executive Order 13112 (1999) as a species that is non-native (or alien) to the ecosystem under consideration and whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm, or harm to human health. While the majority of ornamental plants are not invasive, from time to time a plant adapts too well, escapes cultivation, and becomes established, or naturalized, in the native landscape. The Plant Conservation Alliance has identified approximately 500 species of exotic plants across the country that are competing with native species and altering the structure and function of the ecosystems they invade. Of these 500, the New England Wild Flower Society estimates that horticultural activity is responsible for about 60 percent of invasive species introductions, while conservation activities, such as erosion control, windbreak, and wildlife enhancement introduced about 30 percent. Accidental introductions make up the remaining 10 percent. (excerpt from Horticulture Magazine April 2008)

Ana Newell, The Garden Lady   |   Phone: 508-523-1246   |   Email: AnaGardenLady@comcast.net   |   15 Echo Hills Drive, Mansfield, MA 02048
Proud Member of: Massachusetts Horticultural Society, Keep Mansfield Beautiful,
Mansfield Shredding Service, Mansfield Garden Club, Tri-Town Chamber of Commerce

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