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Invasive exotic species are plants that are not native to a given area and have the ability to out-compete indigenous plant species. Invasive exotics are often brought into their non-native surroundings by humans with good intentions. For example, autumn olive (Elaeanus umbellata) was originally imported from Asia in the 1830s as a reclamation plant to revegetate disturbed hillsides and was later marketed for wildlife habitat due to its shrubby cover and juicy fruits. Birds distribute the seeds of the autumn olive, rapidly spreading the plant, and it is now categorized as invasive. Paradise tree or tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) was originally introduced in the late 1700s and planted as a fast growing ornamental. Over time, it gained notoriety as an invasive for multiple reasons: in addition to its rapid growth, it is a prolific seeder, sprouts abundantly from roots and cut stumps, and releases phytotoxic substances that suppress the growth of other plants. In order to overcome the past mistakes of humans, today’s landowners need to be informed about invasive exotics and educated as to the best methods to correct the resulting problems.
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Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Interim Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.
March 18, 2015