Boone County Arboretum
9190 Camp Ernst Road
Union, Kentucky 41091
Phone: (859) 384-4999
Fax: (859) 384-6888

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(For a general overview of the problem created by invasive species, visit our invasive species page.)

What Are Invasive Plants?
Some plants, when introduced into a habitat where they were not native, begin to push out the native plants that were originally growing in the area. Invasive plants are usually very aggressive growers, highly adaptable to a wide range of conditions, and have a longer growing season. They outcompete other plants for resources such as water and sunlight, and in some cases they can actually strangle the native plants.

Amur honeysuckle creates dense shrub thickets, preventing other plants from growing underneath. Photo courtesy of Dr. Brent C. Blair, Xavier University.

The Reason For The Concern:
As these plants invade the area, the shift in vegetation can have dramatic consequences in the overall ecosystem of the area. As honeysuckle outcompetes other plants, especially those smaller than itself, there will be very little other vegetation in the lower layers of the forest. Some invasive plants also release allelopathic chemicals into the soil to prevent other types of plants from growing. Seedlings of the canopy trees are also affected, so the forest will have less ability to regenerate itself as the older trees age and die. A native forest with many species of canopy trees, understory trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants will become much less diverse in each layer.

When the original vegetation is degraded, the natural services it provided will also be affected. Storm water may not be held back and absorbed as efficiently, causing higher water flow and more erosion in local streams. The smaller invasive plants will sequester less carbon and produce less oxygen than the larger native trees they excluded. Some plants, such as kudzu are being studied as contributors to air pollution and smog problems. Public health problems, particularly respiratory issues, can suffer as a result of these additional burdens.

As the invasion continues and the plant diversity is lowered, there will be a reduction of habitat for the local wildlife. Increased competition for food and shelter among animals will force those animals to look elsewhere, perhaps even into your own yard, for the resources they need. With fewer individual animals able to survive, the overall animal biodiversity will also be reduced.

Invasive plants can also negatively impact the economic value of the land. Farmers' crops will have smaller yields and produce less income. A forest with fewer trees, or trees that are growing improperly, will become less valuable for the timber industry. With a lowered diversity of plants and animals, the recreational value of an area will become less attractive to visitors and local tourism will begin to decline. The vines of kudzu and Japanese honeysuckle will begin to create tripping hazards, and may eventually completely hide the hiking trail.

Volunteers helping dramatically transform the arboretum's invasive species demonstration area. Photo courtesy of Josh Selm, Boone County Arboretum.

BCA Invasive Plant Awareness Trail:
In 2010, Friends of Boone County Arboretum received a grant from the US Forest Service, through the Kentucky Division of Forestry, to create an invasive plant removal demonstration trail. The main trail was created and many invasive plants were removed in the spring of 2011, but maintaining the area free of invasive plants will be an ongoing task. If you are interested in volunteering to help maintain this or other areas of the arboretum, please contact the arboretum staff.


Just Some Of The Invasive Plants Of Primary Concern At BCA:
Japanese Honeysuckle
Amur Honeysuckle
Ornamental pear
Garlic mustard

Native Plants Are Also Attacked By Invasive Pests:
Chestnut blight
Dutch elm disease
Emerald ash borer
Asian longhorn beetle

Join a volunteer group to remove honeysuckle, multiflora rose, and other invasive plants from public properties. Image courtesy of Josh Selm, Boone County Arboretum.

What Can I Do To Help?


Moving firewood long distances can also transport emerald ash borer, hemlock wooly adelgid, gypsy moth, sudden oak death, and many other harmful insects and diseases contained in that wood. By not moving firewood, and by burning all of it before you leave, you can help prevent the spread of these problems into new areas. Image courtesy of Troy Kimoto, Canadian Food Inspection Agency,

Homeowners / Small-plot Gardeners

Outdoor Enthusiasts / Hunters / Campers


For More Information:
Visit the website and the National Invasive Species Information Center.

The Kentucky Exotic Pest Plant Council and their Kentucky's Least Wanted Plant Program are excellent reference sites about invasive plants.

Utilize the National Tree Benefit Calculator to determine the value of your tree lot, and the Kentucky Division of Forestry for additional resources and management plans.