10 Invasive Plants That Can Harm Your Garden - Step To Health

10 Invasive Plants That Can Harm Your Garden

Did you know that there are a number of plants that can damage your garden and the environment depending on where you live? Learn about the most common invasive species and what to do about them here.
10 Invasive Plants That Can Harm Your Garden

Last update: 14 January, 2022

Invasive species have become a danger to ecosystems worldwide. This is a term that can be used for both plant and animal species. In this article, we’ll explain what invasive plants are, the consequences of having them in your garden, and the most common ones in both America and Spain.

Allochthonous or exotic plants are species that have been taken to other ecosystems different from their place of origin. In principle, this is not a problem in itself. In fact, exotic plants that don’t pose any risk are known as naturalized.

However, some alien plants have become invasive. Thus, they have a high capacity to colonize the areas where they’re planted and displace other native species, stealing nutrients or taking away space for them to grow. This means that they reproduce very easily.

The consequences of having invasive plants in your yard or garden

Invasive plants have serious effects on the environment. Their impact can cause loss of biodiversity, alterations in natural cycles, the extermination of native plants, and damage to the soil.

Many countries are making efforts to eradicate invasive plants and repopulate their territories with native trees and species, especially in parks and protected areas. Although many of these plants may look beautiful in your garden, they run the risk of causing an imbalance in ecosystems.

On the other hand, birds and insects may contribute to the spread of their seeds. So, no matter how much you think you can keep them under control in your yard or garden, their ability to spread easily could get out of hand. The recommendation of the environmental authorities is to even avoid them in homes.

The most common invasive plants

The Atlas of invasive alien plants in Spain contains more than 100 species. It points out that the introduction of living beings outside their natural distribution area is the second environmentally-originated problem in order of magnitude. Another publication from the Government of Cantabria states that 60% of invasive species come from gardening.

In fact, in the last two centuries, scientists have discovered that the movement of species has increased with the globalization of tourism and trade.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common invasive plants.

1. Invasive plants: Acacia or mimosa

This tree of Australian origin stands out for the beautiful yellow flowers that make it very attractive. However, it has become a problem for many territories, both in Spain and Latin America.

In fact, it’s actually become a dangerous plant for temperate zones. It has a great capacity to resprout, even after fires, and ends up drying out soils.

Flores amarillas de acacia.
Acacia is actually native to Australia. It’s dangerous in temperate climates.

2. English Ivy

This plant that has become so popular in America has become an invasive species of concern. It was brought by the English when they colonized the United States and then spread across the rest of the continent. Its ability to grow and spread over trees and other plants causes it to invade and not allow anything else to grow.

3. Invasive plants: Pines

Several species of pine trees arrived in Latin America and Spain and became invasive. They reproduce by seeds that are dispersed through the wind and have populated vast areas.

Their impact is negative because they compete with other native species for nutrients, drying out the soil and changing its characteristics. They’ve also altered the diversity of the areas.

4. Poet’s eye

This attractive flowering plant, also known as black-eyed susanita, poet’s eye, or thunbergia, has become a problem in several Latin American countries. In fact, scientists have discovered that this plant acts by climbing on other plants and preventing their growth.

5. Invasive plants: Cat’s claw

This plant of South African origin has an impressive ability to spread. It’s often used in gardens because it has showy flowers, which stand out for their ornamental capacity.

However, it’s become a danger to other species in Spain and America. It generates a dense and dense cover in the place where it is planted. Consequently, when you want to eradicate it, it’s even necessary to burn the area!

6. Plumero or pampas grass

The plumero is a plant native to South America that’s now considered an invasive species in Spain. It has spread throughout most of the country and, although it has an attractive appearance that makes it a good ornamental plant, it’s dangerous because it increases the risk of fires.

Also, because of its ability to reproduce, it tends to completely colonize the spaces where it’s planted.

7. Invasive plants: Water hyacinth

Next, the water hyacinth is an aquatic plant native to South America that is considered one of the 100 most invasive on the planet. However, it has an extraordinary beauty that makes it tempting to want to have it in our gardens.

However, it has become a problem in countries in Europe. It has the ability to spread rapidly, covering the surfaces of water bodies and preventing other species from growing.

8. Prickly pear cactus

The International Union for Conservation of Nature considers this plant to be one of the most dangerous invasive species in the world. It’s native to Central America and was brought to the Mediterranean area because it bears fruit.

However, it has been a danger to native biodiversity. For this reason, some countries have banned its commercialization, trafficking, and planting.

Nopal o chumbera es una planta invasora.
Prickly pear cactus is considered illegal in many countries because of its potential to spread quickly and uncontrollably.

9. Invasive plants: St. Gerard’s wort

This is a species of medicinal plant that has a beautiful appearance, as its green leaves have a white-tinted center, and its flowering is abundant. However, it’s considered an invasive plant in American countries because it spreads very easily.

10. Butterfly bush

Finally, this attractive shrub originating from China and Japan has striking lilac flowers. That’s why it’s been taken all over the world for its ornamental value.

However, it spreads rapidly and adapts to various environments very easily. It takes over the land, preventing the growth of other species. Therefore, it’s considered an invasive species that’s best not planted in any yard or garden.

Choose native plants over invasive plants

Although it’s not a mandatory rule, it’s a good idea to only plant native species in your garden. Although not all species from other countries have become invasive, having plants native to the area can bring great benefits.

On the one hand, you’ll be able to give them better conditions for their development. Also, they’ll contribute to taking care of the ecosystem.

The best thing to do when choosing ornamental plants in your garden is to read and get advice from experts about the requirements of the species. If it’s an exotic plant, you can also find out if it’s naturalized in your country or if it’s invasive.

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