Invasive Exotic Plants

A Growing  Problem in Weaverville

Invasive exotic plant species become a problem. Some exotic species do not expand into natural areas because conditions outside of maintained gardens are unsuitable. However, these garden plants, while not harmful, may be of limited or no value to native wildlife. Plant species that become invasive have the following characteristics:

  • Produce abundant viable seeds that are easily dispersed by wildlife, wind, water, etc.
  • Lack predators, pests, and/or diseases to keep them in check, thus allowing them to out-compete native plants
  • Are fast-growing and thrive on disturbance
  •  Have longer growing seasons than native plants It is important to be aware that IE plants may not spread “in place.”

Seedlings are often pulled up because they look like other weeds in your garden or because they sprout in lawns and are killed by repeated mowing. However, their fruits and seeds may be eaten by birds and other wildlife, and dropped in other places. This is the reason why many areas in Pisgah National Forest and along the Blue Ridge Parkway are heavily infested.

What is an invasive exotic plant? An invasive exotic plant (IE) is one that has been introduced to an area from outside its native range, either purposefully or accidentally, and that expands its range into natural areas, disrupting and out-competing the native plant community.

Not all non-native plant species become a problem; the ones that become invasive have characteristics similar to these:

  • Produce abundant viable seeds that are easily dispersed by wildlife, wind, water, etc.
  • Lack predators, pests, and/or diseases to keep them in check, thus allowing them to outcompete native plants.
  • Fast-growing and thrive on disturbance.
  • Longer photosynthetic periods allow for longer growing seasons.
  • Disrupt enter flow in our ecosystems
Why Should I Care?
  • IE plans reduce biodiversity of native plans, animals, birds and insects and alter natural communities.
  • Currently over 100 million acres of US land, or an area roughly 3 time the size of North Carolina, are infested with IE plants. This figure is increasing at a rate of 3 million acres per year, an area 7 times the size of Buncombe County
  • IE plans cost the U.S. $34.7 billion a year on average. This cost includes loss of recreation revenue as well as maintenance, prevention, and control of IE plants.
  • IE plants can also be costly for landowners: vines can damage and weaken siding; robust IE trees can quickly crack foundations; dense infestations can negate any prior landscaping efforts; overburden can bring down native trees.
What are we doing about this problem?

The Town of Weaverville has pursued multiple approaches to the problem of IE plants. The Town- sponsored program that began in 2007 and resulted in Weaverville being named a Community Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation included projects that replaced IE plants with natives, as well as the production of educational materials. One result of this effort
was to revise the Town landscaping ordinance, which applies to developments involving two or more residences, so that IE trees and shrubs may no longer be planted in these situations.

The Weaverville Wildlife Habitat Team continues to encourage and assist with the use of native plants in landscaping.  In 2014, the Town completed work on a grant from the NC Department of Forestry that supported development of a plan to manage IE plants in Weaverville. This plan can be found on the Town website (Invasive Exotic Plant Management Plan for the Town of Weaverville) and on this site linked below. Because the Town can only implement control on Town-owned properties, this program is largely educational in nature. Under the auspices of Weaverville Wildlife Habitat and the Main Street Nature Park Steering Committee, the Town is actively involved in efforts to remove IE plants in Main Street Nature Park and replace them with native species.

This is a slow process, given that it depends primarily on volunteers and is time-consuming and physically demanding. Anyone wishing to participate in volunteer workdays in the Park should send an enquiry to

Weaverville’s Top Offenders

An extensive array of IE plants can be found within the Town limits and on lands surrounding the Town. We list below the trees and shrubs that are most widespread within the Town limits. This list targets woody plants and does not include any of the numerous IE herbaceous perennials that find their way to every tiny nook and cranny. Additional photographs and information about our top offenders, including control techniques, can be found in The Management Plan, (link) beginning after page 11. There are also many publications about IE species, as well as online resources – for example, see the Invasive Plants Atlas, a site sponsored by the National Park Service and the University of Georgia (

Printable brochure: Invasive Exotic Plants

Invasive Exotic Plant Management Plan for the Town of Weaverville


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