Plants That Won't Stay Put

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Published on: Apr. 2, 2001

Last revision: Nov. 8, 2010

been heavily colonized by shrub honeysuckles.

Common Buckthorn Rhamnus cathartica

This shrub or small tree, which is native to Europe and Asia, can grow as high as 25 feet.

Introduced into North America for use as an ornamental shrub, it spreads from seed after birds eat the fruits. Common buckthorn can also resprout from cut or damaged stems. It is quite sun-tolerant and can inhabit woodlands, savannas, prairies, fencerows, roadsides and abandoned fields. It readily invades native habitats, where it displaces native shrubs and wildflowers.

Crown Vetch Securigera varia

This legume is native to Europe, Asia and Africa. It is a common sight for Missourians, having been planted extensively along highway rights-of-way for erosion control. It spreads by rhizomes and by seeds that are dispersed by water. Crown vetch grows best in sunny areas and spreads from planted sites to gravel bars, streambanks, glades and other open areas. No longer planted on roadsides, it is still sold by seed companies as a ground cover.

Cut-leaved Teasel and Common Teasel Dipsacus laciniatus and Dipsacus fullonum

Teasel was brought to North America from Europe as early as the 1700s. The spiny seed heads were once used to raise the nap of cloth in the textile industry. It has spread rapidly from the eastern U.S. in the last few decades, primarily along highway rights-of-way. It is now common along Missouri's roadsides, but it can also spread to pastures, gravel bars and other open areas, including natural wetlands and prairies. Teasel grows in large, dense stands from which it excludes other vegetation.

Garlic Mustard Alliaria petiolata

Garlic mustard is native to Europe and was probably brought to the U.S. for use as a culinary herb. It aggressively invades upland and bottomland forests, where it can exclude other species from the forest floor. In Missouri, it is most common in the northern half of the state in moist forests near streams or rivers.

Japanese Honeysuckle Lonicera japonica

This climbing vine was brought to the U.S. from Japan in 1806 for use as a horticultural ground cover. Now common over much of the eastern U.S., Japanese honeysuckle aggressively colonizes open or forested areas. It usually becomes established after birds spread its seed. It can completely cover shrubs and low-growing plants, producing dense shade that prohibits growth beneath it. More common in southern Missouri, its growth is somewhat limited in the north by cold winter temperatures.

Kudzu Pueraria lobata

Kudzu was brought to the U.S. from Japan in the late

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