When you think of invaders, you probably think of big armies that flood into a place and frighten and even harm everyone that already lives there. But did you know that some of the pretty trees and flowers that you see in people’s gardens or even on the side of the road are invaders that are harming the naturally occurring plants and animals that had been there previously? These invaders are non-native plants, and while they can be beautiful to look at, they can be dangerous to wildlife and – over time – humans.
There are numerous names for non-native plant species, including nonindigenous, exotic, and – when they become environmentally troublesome – invasive. While many non-native tree species might have been brought over to different habitats for ornamental (to make something pretty) or economic (to make money) purposes, their long-term effects tend to be devastating to the original forest, reducing environmental diversity and threatening native trees and plants.
When you look at certain invasive tree species, it’s easy to see why they became popular with gardeners and homeowners. Many of them are quite beautiful, thick with bright and colorful flowers and velvety leaves; they can make properties appear lush and well-maintained. However, their seeds can spread easily into surrounding regions, and they can cause considerable damage to native forests when allowed to multiply.
Approximately 250 tree species cause significant harm when they invade non-native ecosystems. Although 250 is considered a small number on the scale of total tree species, their ability to grow aggressively in a wide variety of climates and conditions, reproduce at a high rate of speed, and survive even harsh environmental circumstances make them highly difficult to manage.
The following non-native tree species can be a threat to their non-native ecosystem, and even a threat to human health if allowed to proliferate.
In the Southern United States, forests are highly diverse, providing essential resources for native wildlife, as well as the raw materials for numerous consumer products. Invasive tree and plant species alter the chemistry of the native soil, reduce the diversity of the existing flora and fauna, impede native species regeneration, endanger native seedlings, and certain invasive species can even increase the risk of wildfires. Here is how invasive species affect the health and biodiversity of native forests.
How to Manage Invasive Trees
Fortunately, precautions can be taken to limit the spread of invasive trees and plants. Here are a few strategies that may help preserve and regenerate native forests.
Forest Founders is committed to regenerating native forests all over the world. For more information about how you can help protect our forests, please visit Forest Founders information page.