Invasive Plant Task Force - James River Park System

Invasives vs Natives

Invasives vs Natives

Top 10 worst invasives in the JRSP

Ailanthus altissima (Tree of Heaven)

  • Tree of HeavenWhere can you find it in the park? Huguenot Woods Flatwater, Pony Pasture, Buttermilk Trail, Boulevard to Reedy Creek, Cooper Island, Archer Island, Bohannon Island, Reedy Creek to Lee Bridge, Belle Isle, Machester Climbing Wall, Ancarrow’s Landing, Pumphouse Park, Texas Beach, North Bank, Pipeline, Chapel Island
  • Damage caused: Fast growing tree that establishes dense groves that push out natives. The roots contain chemicals, including ailanthone, found to limit the growth of other plants which help it establish and spread.
  • Interesting Fact: The leaves and crushed stems smell like rotten peanut butter!
  • Learn more about Tree of Heaven

Celastrus orbiculatus (Oriental Bittersweet)

  • Oriental BittersweetWhere can you find it in the park? Buttermilk Trail, Boulevard to Reedy Creek, Cooper Island, Archer Island, Bohannon Island, Reedy Creek to Lee Bridge, Belle Isle, Manchester Climbing Wall, Ancarrow’s Landing, North Bank Trail, Pipeline
  • Damage caused: Thick masses of vines climb over shrubs, small trees and other plants, producing dense shade that weakens and can eventually kill them. The excessive weight of the vines can also cause trees and shrubs to uproot and fall over.
  • Interesting Fact: Introduced into the United States in the 1860s as an ornamental plant and it is still widely sold for landscaping despite its invasive qualities.
  • Learn more about Oriental Bittersweet.

Eleagnus umbellata (Autumn Olive)

  • Autumn OliveWhere can you find it in the park? Pony Pasture, Buttermilk Trail, Boulevard to Reedy Creek, Archer Island, Bohannon Island, Reedy Creek to Lee Bridge, Belle Isle, Manchester Climbing Wall, Ancarrow’s Landing, Pumphouse Park, Texas Beach, Pipeline
  • Damage caused: It threatens native ecosystems by out-competing and displacing native plant species, creating dense shade and interfering with natural plant succession and nutrient cycling.
  • Interesting Fact: Introduced into the United States in 1830 and widely planted as an ornamental, for wildlife habitat, as windbreaks and to restore deforested and degraded lands.
  • Learn more about Autumn Olive.

Euonymus fortunei (Wintercreeper)

  • WintercreeperWhere can you find it in the park? Huguenot Woods Flatwater, Riverside Meadow, Pony Pasture, Buttermilk Trail, Boulevard to Reedy Creek, Cooper Island, Archer Island, Bohannon Island, Reedy Creek to Lee Bridge, Belle Isle, Manchester Climbing Wall, Ancarrow’s Landing, Pumphouse Park, Texas Beach, North Bank, Chapel Island
  • Damage caused: Dense groundcover displaces native understory species, restricts tree seedling establishment, smothers and kills shrubs and small trees, by depriving leaves of sunlight, inhibiting photosynthesis
  • Interesting Fact: Native to Asia; introduced in 1907 as ornamental; many cultivars available widely in nurseries; popular plant in home gardens
  • Learn more about Wintercreeper.

Hedera helix (English Ivy)

  • English IvyWhere can you find it in the park? Huguenot Woods Flatwater, Riverside Meadow, Pony Pasture, Buttermilk Trail, Boulevard to Reedy Creek, Archer Island, Bohannon Island, Reedy Creek to Lee Bridge, Belle Isle, Manchester Climbing Wall, Ancarrow’s Landing, Pumphouse Park, Texas Beach, North Bank, Pipeline, Chapel Island
  • Damage caused: Spreads along ground plane by underground runners, and by birds ingesting the fruits and then spreading seed. Harms trees by climbing their trunks, depriving leaves of sunlight and making the trees more susceptible to breakage and tipping due to the added weight. Creation of “Ivy Deserts” decrease diversity of native birds, mammals and amphibians. Masses of English Ivy does not protect against erosion because its shallow, sparse roots don’t provide the deep soil anchoring of mature trees and shrubs.
  • Interesting Fact: Introduced to North America from Europe by early settlers for ornamental use.  Still widely available in nurseries, and widely used in the landscape.
  • Learn more about English Ivy.

Lespedeza cuneata (Sericea Lespedeza)

  • Sericea LespedezaWhere can you find it in the park? Huguenot Woods Flatwater, Riverside Meadow, Pony Pasture, Buttermilk Trail, Boulevard to Reedy Creek, Cooper Island, Archer Island, Bohannon Island, Reedy Creek to Lee Bridge, Belle Isle, Manchester Climbing Wall, Ancarrow’s Landing, Pumphouse Park, Texas Beach, North Bank, Pipeline, Chapel Island
  • Damage caused: Extremely aggressive in open areas (fields, open woodland, wetland) and out competes native vegetation. Once established, very difficult to eradicate because seed bank remains viable for decades. Is not supportive to wildlife due to high tannin content making it unpalatable.
  • Interesting Fact: Lespedeza comprises 1.5 - 86.8% of annual diet of bobwhite quail in Southeast US.
  • Learn more about Sericea Lespedeza.

Ligustrum sinense (Chinese Privet)

  • Chinese PrivetWhere can you find it in the park? Chinese Privet occurs throughout the park system but is dominant in sections of Huguenot Woods Flatwater, Riverside Meadow, Pony Pasture, Buttermilk Trail, Boulevard to Reedy Creek, Cooper Island, Archer Island, Bohannon Island, Reedy Creek to Lee Bridge, Belle IsleManchester Climbing Wall, Ancarrow’s Landing, Pumphouse Park, Texas Beach, North Bank, Chapel Island
  • Damage caused: Colonizing through root sprouts and spreading by bird and animal seed dispersal, Chinese Privet forms dense thickets that shade out and displace native shrubs and plants.  Compounds in the leaves prevent native herbivorous insects from feeding on it.
  • Interesting Fact: Chinese Privet was introduced as an ornamental in the early to mid-1800s. Deer will browse sprouts.
  • Learn more about Chinese Privet.

Lonicera japonica (Japanese Honeysuckle)

  • Japanese HoneysuckleWhere can you find it in the park: Huguenot Woods Flatwater, Riverside Meadow, Pony Pasture, Buttermilk Trail, Boulevard to Reedy Creek, Cooper Island, Archer Island, Bohannon Island, Reedy Creek to Lee Bridge, Belle Isle, Manchester Climbing Wall, Ancarrow’s Landing, Pumphouse Park, Texas Beach, North Bank, Chapel Island
  • Damage caused:  Japanese Honeysuckle is a fast growing vine that twines around the stems of shrubs and plants. It can kill shrubs and saplings by girdling.
  • Interesting fact: There are beautiful native alternatives to Japanese Honeysuckle you can plant including Coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) and Trumpet Creeper (Campsis radicans).
  • Learn more about Japanese Honeysuckle.

Lonicera maackii (Amur Honeysuckle)

  • Amur HoneysuckleWhere can you find it in the park? Huguenot Woods Flatwater, Riverside Meadow, Pony Pasture, Boulevard to Reedy Creek, Cooper Island, Archer Island, Bohannon Island, Belle Isle, Manchester Climbing Wall, Ancarrow’s Landing, Pumphouse Park, Texas Beach, North Bank, Pipeline, Chapel Island
  • Damage caused: Amur Honeysuckle thrives in disturbed areas and therefore impedes successful reforestation efforts. It leafs out earliest in the spring, shading out native shrubs and plants with its dense thickets.  Its structure may foster increased predation on nesting birds and its fruits provide inadequate nutrition to migrating native bird species compared to native food sources.
  • Interesting Fact: The New York Botanical Garden imported Amur Honeysuckle as an ornamental in 1898. Later it was planted widely for soil erosion and wildlife cover. Needless to say, it escaped, reproduced, and spread into natural areas.
  • Learn more about Amur Honeysuckle.

Microstegium vimineum (Japanese Stiltgrass)

  • Japanese stiltgrassWhere can you find it in the park? You will notice Stiltgrass most commonly along the edges of trails and streambanks. Huguenot Woods Flatwater, Riverside Meadow, Pony Pasture, Buttermilk Trail, Boulevard to Reedy Creek, Archer Island, Bohannon Island, Reedy Creek to Lee Bridge, Belle Isle, Manchester Climbing Wall, Ancarrow’s Landing, Pumphouse Park, Texas Beach, North Bank, Pipeline
  • Damage caused: Stiltgrass is one of the most opportunistic invasives, easily spreading in full sun to deep shade in all types of forested, wetland, and riparian ecosystems.   Disturbances such as natural scouring in floodplains, frequent mowing or heavy equipment use create ideal conditions for stiltgrass to spread in dense, expansive patches eliminating native vegetation in its wake while offering no wildlife food value of its own.
  • Interesting Fact: Stiltgrass first came to the United States in 1919 as a (dried) form of packaging material for porcelain.  A single plant can produce up to 1,000 seeds which remain viable in the soil for three years or more.
  • Learn more about Japanese Stiltgrass.

Rosa multiflora (Multiflora Rose)

  • Multiflora RoseWhere can you find it in the park? Huguenot Woods Flatwater, Riverside Meadow, Pony Pasture, Buttermilk Trail, Boulevard to Reedy Creek, Archer Island, Bohannon Island, Reedcy Creek to Lee Bridge, Belle Isle, Manchester Climbing Wall, Pumphouse Park, Texas Beach, North Bank, Chapel Island
  • Damage caused: Multiflora Rose grows aggressively in dense thickets that crowd out most native shrubs and herbaceous plants.  It’s another highly adaptable and opportunistic invasive that overtakes a variety of habitats including fields, forests, and wetlands.
  • Interesting Fact: First introduced to the United States in the 1860s as rootstock for ornamental roses, the U.S. Soil Conservation Service made Multiflora Rose a tool for erosion control and livestock confinement in the 1930s.  State conservation agencies and highway departments continued its spread as wildlife cover and median strip vegetation.  Several eastern and midwestern states now officially classify it as a “noxious weed”.
  • Learn more about Multiflora Rose.