Nonnative Invasive Plants of Southern Forests

May 29, 2003- The USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) has published a new guide for identifying and controlling nonnative invasive plants in Southern forests. Written by Dr. James H. Miller, research ecologist at the SRS Forest Vegetation Management unit in Auburn, AL, "Nonnative Invasive Plants of Southern Forests" provides an important new resource for individuals and agencies trying to control the spread of these invaders.

Nonnative invasive plants infest millions of acres of public and private forest land in the Southeast U.S, destroying native plant communities and limiting diversity. Largely unnoticed by the general public, these plants are steadily moving deeper into the forest along corridors formed by roads, trails, streams, and rivers. Integrated pest management programs that use safe and effective control treatments are urgently needed to stem the spread and reclaim forest habitats.

"Effectively controlling nonnative invasive plants relies on the constant surveillance of the road and stream sides they spread along," said Miller. "Eradicating these plants is much easier when they first appear, so it is important to be able to identify them in both growing and dormant seasons."

Miller's book covers 33 plant groups, with over 40 species highlighted. The identification section of the guide includes a complete description of each plant, its ecology, resemblances to other plants, history, and use. Detailed photographs show how the plant looks in different seasons of the year, including flowers, fruits, stems, and overall shape.

Whether they were introduced accidentally or brought in for livestock forage or ornamental use, these plants have left an environment where they are kept in check by insects or disease and compete unfairly with the native vegetation. "Southern forests are literally choked by kudzu, oriental bittersweet, and privet," said Miller. "While most people are aware of these first invaders, many do

Contact: Dr. James H. Miller
Southern Research Station - USDA Forest Service

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