Elevation and Invasion

When humans wander the planet, they carry their plants along, often inadvertently. For example, Plantago major earned the common name ‘white man’s footprint,’ because it hitchhiked to the U.S. with European settlers and began growing along trails and roads. It is a very common species in the Southeast and has naturalized all over the globe.…  More 

Why Native Plants Are Best

This article was written to celebrate Native Plant Month in Arkansas. It was originally published in Our Ozarks. In 1733, Peter Collinson, a botanist and cloth merchant, walked with great excitement to the ship docks in London. He picked up two boxes of seeds from an American farmer named John Bartram. With these exotic seeds,…  More 

Invasive Plants Follow Land Abandonment after Hurricane Katrina

The lot is overgrown, crowded with unruly shrubs, vines, and waist-high weeds. It is littered with old tires and garbage and is now home to a rusted Toyota Tercel. The air is heavy and buzzing with mosquitoes. This is the Lower 9th Ward, where U.S. Forest Service research forester Wayne Zipperer studied the vegetation on…  More 

Chinese Tallow Litter and Tadpoles

Centuries ago, a tree was plucked out of its native ecosystems and introduced to the U.S. Chinese tallow (Triadica sebifera) is a showy tree with waxy seeds and heart-shaped leaves. Every autumn, its leaves turn crimson or orange before falling to the ground – or the water. “Chinese tallow invades wetlands and riparian areas in…  More 

Do Roads Drive Forest Plant Invasions?

Roads provide a means for moving people and products, but they can also allow hitchhiking organisms to spread. Some exotic invasive plants thrive on the disturbance created by road construction that displaces native plants. However, a new study led by Kurt Riitters, U.S. Forest Service research ecologist with the SRS Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center, found…  More 

The Thorny Economics of Preventing Exotic Species Introductions

What if we lose tree species we know, love, and need? It has happened before. “Look at what happened to the American chestnut,” says U.S. Forest Service research forester Thomas Holmes. “Look at what’s happening right now to hemlock, redbay, and ash trees.” All three species, as well as many more, are threatened by non-native…  More 

Plant Invasion Patterns at Global and Regional Scales

From the moment of colonization, humans have carried non-native plants around the world with them. “The introductions are changing the world’s biogeography,” says U.S. Forest Service research ecologist Qinfeng Guo. “Understanding the mechanisms behind invasion patterns is critically important.” Invasion patterns vary depending on the scale. At finer scales, invasions are often related to competition.…  More 

Exotic Plants May Dominate After a Fire, But Not for Long

Land managers expect that exotic invasive plants will quickly move in following a disturbance, especially after a fire. Though exotics initially might have an edge over native plants on burned ground, this may not always be so as time goes on, according to a U.S. Forest Service study. Qinfeng Guo, a research ecologist with the…  More 

Kudzu’s Entanglement of South Begins to Unravel

Kudzu, the nightmare weed that gobbled the South, is disappearing. Slowly, inexorably, the scientists, foresters, farmers and goats — yes, goats — are gaining the upper hand on the slinky, creepy green vine that makes abandoned homes and utility poles disappear seemingly overnight. Kudzu’s decline is difficult for a Southerner to grasp. Drive down that…  More 

Controlling Cogongrass

Has cogongrass invaded your land? The first step — and the easiest — is identifying the plant itself, which the U.S. federal government and multiple states list as a noxious weed. Cogongrass has some features that make it fairly easy to identify. Compared to the deep green hues of other grasses typically found in the South, the…  More