Invasive Plants Are Dangerous To The Environment: This is Why

At RTEC, we consider plants to be our friends – that is, unless they cause harm to other plants and wildlife. While the specific damage is dependent on species, there is one thing that is the same for all: they leave a life-altering mark on the ecosystem and those native to it.


What is an Invasive Plant?

Invasive species are plants, animals, or other organisms that have been introduced, often accidentally, into a new environment. They invade the ecosystem, quickly spreading and thriving at the expense of native species.

Invasive plants can:

  • Outcompete and displace native species
  • Decrease ecosystem diversity
  • Degrade land conditions (soil, water, etc.)

Unfortunately, there is a range of invasive plants that you might come across in the Northern Virginia, DC Metro Area. To protect your plants, it may be worth looking into the various invasive species so you know which plants to avoid in the future.

**Tip: If you find a green plant this winter season that isn’t an evergreen, chances are that plant is invasive.

There are many invasive species that can be found in Virginia; here’s a list of a few:

  • Wisteria (Chinese, Japanese)
  • English ivy
  • Japanese/Chinese honeysuckle
  • Mile a minute weed
  • Kudzu
  • Ailanthus
  • Norway maple
  • Phragmites
  • Viburnum 
  • Multi flora rose

Invasive Species Recently Found in Northern Virginia

Below are two invasive plants our tree experts have recently identified in our area.

wisteria invasive plant species found in northern virginia dc metro area by an RTEC Certified Arborist tree expert
Invasive wisteria vine strangling a local oak tree, found by one of our Certified Arborists

1. Wisteria

Wisterias carry objectively beautiful lilac or bluish flowers in spring and summer. Because of their beauty, they’re often used as decorative ornamentals. There are a few different species of wisteria; depending on where you live, which species you choose can determine the livelihood of your landscape.  

Unfortunately, Virginia happens to be one of the states in which certain species of wisteria vines are not native: Chinese and Japanese wisteria.

In Virginia, Chinese and Japanese wisteria vines:

  • Cause “death by gridling” (strangling of native plants)
  • Interrupt natural plant development
  • Create canopy gaps which allows the invasive plant to thrive and continue harming native species

English ivy invasive plant species found in Northern Virginia DC Metro area by an RTEC Certified Arborist tree expert
English ivy is an invasive vine species that has been spotted by one of our Certified Arborists

2. English Ivy

English ivies are evergreen vines that feature dark green, waxy leaves. They are known as ground covers and for covering structures like fences and walls. They can sprawl their way into every nook and cranny they encounter. If they’re in areas they aren’t native to, they can threaten all vegetation levels.  

An invasive species in Virginia, English ivy vines are known to:

  • Cover trees and block sunlight from reaching them
  • Restrict tree growth
  • Break branches and cause trees to fall (due in part to weather stressors)
  • Grow tree fungus, which can result in eventual tree damage or tree death
  • Facilitate development of bacterial leaf scorch (a harmful pathogen!)

How You Can Avoid Spreading Invasive Plant Species

Invasive plants can be extremely hard to remove from landscapes. The best way you can avoid spreading invasive species is by taking proactive steps early on.

Avoid introducing potentially invasive species to your hometown. When visiting a new, distant area, don’t make the mistake of transporting a plant from that area, no matter how beautiful or one-of-a-kind it is. Bringing it home can wreck havoc on the plants you already have.

Choose to add native plants to your landscape. Do your research when adding a plant to your home. Not only are native plants safe, they help their surrounding environment – and they’re easier for you to manage!

If you find an invasive species in your area, report it! By simply reporting a sighting, you can save plants & wildlife near you.


Efficiently controlling invasive species requires an environmental expert. Our Certified Arborists are here to help.

Call us today at 703.573.3029 or reserve an appointment online to save your landscape.

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