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Carrboro updates invasive plants list


By Kirk Ross, Staff Writer

English ivy? No. Chinese privet? Definitely not. Mimosa? Lovely in blossom, perhaps, but insidious. The same goes for bush honeysuckle and Chinese wisteria.

These are the species at the top of Carrboro’s new list of invasive plants, which was formally adopted last month.
The list comes from a recommendation by the town’s Environmental Advisory Board and represents legwork on the part of landscaper and board member Matthew Arnsberger.

The town’s old list, tucked away in an annex of the town’s land-use plan, had a lot of serious flaws, Arnsberger said, not the least of which was that it was based on a list drawn up in New York and wasn’t based on realities in North Carolina.

“It was arbitrary and unscientific,” Arnsberger said. Several plants on the old list may be causing problems in New England, he said, but not here.

The new list, he said, comes from a list published by the N.C. Native Plant Society based on the work of Misty Buchanan, a botanist with the N.C. Natural Heritage Program and a resident of Orange County.

Buchanan said that list is based on a system developed in Tennessee that ranks plants according to their threat to native species. One big advantage of the new system, she said, is that the Native Plant Society receives feedback on the list and keeps it updated.

“The idea was to adopt a process rather than just have a static list,” Buchanan said.

The five species listed above are classified as severe threats, the top threat level. Their inclusion into the town’s zoning code means that they can not be included in any plans submitted by developers.

Arnsberger said the idea of having the list isn’t about telling people what they can and can’t plant, but to make sure that the plants aren’t introduced as a result of new projects.

Common names for other species in the severe-threat category are Tree of Heaven, Garlic-mustard, Alligatorweed, Asian bittersweet, Russian olive, Autumn olive, Bicolor lespedeza, Sericea lespedeza, Fragrant honeysuckle, Japanese honeysuckle, Japanese stilt-grass, Asian spiderwort, Parrotfeather, Princess tree, Common reed, Japanese knotweed, Kudzu, Multiflora rose, Aquarium water-moss and Beach vitex.

The society’s complete list of plants, broken down by their threat level, is at ncwildflower.org/invasives/list.htm

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  1. Nicholas McGill

    Have people here ever heard of guilt displacement? To see the worlds worst invader, look in the mirror instead of the garden. Plants are not the problem, but people’s consumption and development practices are. I’m just sayin…

  2. Liane Salgado

    The two are not mutually exclusive. Perhaps one of the many things that the “man in the mirror” does to damage nature is to plant invasives.

  3. Samuel E. Reynolds

    Let’s kill ourselves, instead of the plants.