A Field Guide for the Identification of Invasive Plants in Southern Forests
Invasions of nonnative plants into southern forests continue to go largely unchecked and only partially monitored. Small forest openings, forest road right-of-ways, and areas under and beside forest canopies are often occupied by invasive nonnative plants. These infestations increasingly erode forest productivity, hindering forest use and management activities, degrading diversity and wildlife habitat. Often called nonnative, exotic, nonindigenous, alien, or noxious weeds, nonnative invasive plants occur as trees, shrubs, vines, grasses, ferns, and forbs. Some have been introduced into this country accidentally, but most were brought here as ornamentals or for livestock forage. These robust plants arrived without their natural predators of insects, diseases,and animals that tend to keep native plants in natural balance. Many have hybridized and undergone plant breeding to become more aggressive, predator resistant and resilient, drought tolerant, and cold hardy. Now, they increase across the landscape with little opposition beyond the control and reclamation measures applied by landowners, managers, and agencies on individual land holdings. An increased awareness of the threat has resulted in growing networks of concerned individuals, agencies, governments, and companies aimed at stopping plant invasions across landscapes and restoring formerly infested lands.
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