H E R E A R E A F E W O F T H E M O S T P R O B L E M AT I C I N V A D E R S .
JAPANESE HONEYSUCKLE Lonicera japonica
An evergreen to semi-evergreen vine with fragrant flowers, Japanese honeysuckle is often confused with
native coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens). Unlike coral honeysuckle, this invasive vine can kill
shrubs and young trees by wrapping tightly around trunks and stems, cutting off water flow.
Japanese honeysuckle can gradually kill large trees and understory plants by blocking
sunlight from reaching their leaves. It is suspected to have the highest rate of spread among invasive
plants in North Carolina, multiplying above-ground via horizontal and vertical runners and below-ground
with rhizomes as well as by berries dispersed by birds and small animals.
It’s extremely difficult to remove. Cutting stimulates dense regrowth, so while repeated manual pulling may
eradicate small patches, well-timed application of herbicide is the only method of control known to be effective on
large, well-established stands.
MULTIFLORA ROSE/HEDGE ROSE Rosa multiflora
Though it provides months of color with fragrant, white to pale pink flowers in early summer
and tiny red fruit from summer to winter, this thorny shrub forms impenetrable thickets that
crowd out native vegetation.
Once encouraged by the U.S. Soil Conservation Service for erosion control and natural live-stock
fencing, multiflora rose thrives in a variety of conditions and is found throughout North
Carolina, reproducing by rooting the tips of arching branches and by producing up to a million
seeds a year, which are dispersed by birds.
When small, these shrubs can be dug out by hand. Larger plants can by pulled out with a
truck or tractor, and careful herbicide application is effective.
CHINESE PRIVET Ligustrum sinense
An evergreen shrub that grows up to 15 feet, Chinese privet was introduced in the U.S. as an ornamental garden and
hedge plant and quickly escaped from cultivation. It threatens both wetland and woodlands in North Carolina, outcom-peting
native species for sunlight and nutrients.
Chinese privet matures quickly, reproduces by root sprouts and by seeds spread by birds, and is very difficult to
eradicate once established. Seedlings can be pulled by hand, and aggressive mowing can tame but not eliminate
more mature plants. Targeted application of herbicides during cooler weather when native plants are dormant may kill
Chinese privet, but the application should be repeated the next year and the area monitored closely for root suckers.
ENGLISH IVY Hedera helix
Likely brought to the Americas by European immigrants as an ornamental vine, English ivy remains available for purchase
as a low-maintenance ground cover. Once established, English ivy is extremely hardy in North Carolina and has escaped
cultivation, establishing itself in nearly every imaginable landscape, including woodlands, coastal areas, forests, wetlands,
and abandoned structures in rural, urban, and suburban areas.
The ivy spreads by fruit dispersed by birds, by extending along the ground, and by climbing any available surface. English
ivy starves and kills large trees as well as small ones by engulfing branches and depriving the tree’s leaves of sunlight. The
added weight of the ivy on these weakened trees makes them more likely to fall in a hurricane. On the ground, the dense
growth of this invasive plant shades out low-growing native species.
Small patches growing on the ground can be managed with persistent hand-pulling and mulching. To remove vines from
trees, cut a section of the vine out near the ground. Paint both exposed ends with an herbicide to prevent resprouting and
leave the vines in place to die before peeling them off the trunk. Pulling the vines immediately can break off chunks of tree
bark, causing additional damage to the tree.
Large infestations may require foliar applications of chemical herbicides, which should be carried out during fall and
winter when native plants are dormant.