KudzuDescription: Kudzu ia a climbing, semi-woody, perennial vine in the pea family. Deciduous leaves have three broad leaflets up to 4 inches across. Leaflets lobed with hairy margins. Individual flowers, about 1/2 inch long, are purple, highly fragrant and borne in long hanging clusters. Flowering occurs in late summer and is soon followed by production of brown, hairy, flattened, seed pods, each of which contains three to ten hard seeds.

Threat:  Kudzu kills other plants by smothering them under a blanket of leaves and by breaking branches or uprooting entire trees and shrubs through the sheer force of its weight. Kudzu plants grow rapidly, extending as much as 60 feet per season at a rate of about one foot per day. This vigorous vine may extend up to 100 feet in length, with stems up to 4 inches in diameter. Kudzu roots are fleshy, with massive tap roots 7 inches or more in diameter, 6 feet or more in length, and weighing as much as 400 pounds. As many as thirty vines may grow from a single root crown.

Alternative Plants: Trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans), pipevine (Aristolochia macrophylla), passionflower (Passiflora lutea), trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens), and native bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) have flowers and fruits, provide food for wildlife and make excellent substitutes for kudzu.

Japanese climbing fern

Japanese climbing fernDescription: Perennial viney fern, climbing and twining, to 90 feet (30 m) long, with lacy finely divided leaves along green to orange to black wiry vines, often forming mats of shrub- and tree covering infestations. Tan-brown fronds persisting in winter, while others remain green in northern sheltered places. Vines arising as branches from underground, widely creeping rhizomes that are slender, black, and wiry.

Threat: Occurs along highway right-of-ways, especially under and around bridges, invading into  open forests, forest road edges, and stream and swamp margins. Scattered in open timber  stands and plantations, but can increase in cover to form mats, smothering shrubs and trees. Persists and colonizes by rhizomes and spreads rapidly by wind-dispersed spores. Dies back in late winter with dead vines providing a trellis for reestablishment.

Control: Thoroughly wet all leaves with one of the following herbicides in water with a surfactant (July to October): Arsenal AC* as a 1-percent solution (4 ounces per 3-gallon mix) Garlon 3A, Garlon 4, or a glyphosate herbicide as a 2-percent solution (8 ounces per 3-gallon mix) Escort* at 1 to 2 ounces per acre in water (0.3 to 0.6 dry ounces per 3-gallon mix)

Chinese/European & Japanese/Glossy privet

L. lucidum (glossy privet) L. lucidum (glossy privet) is a large shrub or tree that grows to 30 feet in height, with spreading branches. Leaves are ovate to somewhat lanceolate and 3 to 5 inches long.
L. sinense (Chinese privet) L. sinense (Chinese privet) is smaller than glossy privet, growing to only 20 feet in height. Leaves are elliptical, 1 to 3 inches long, and pubescent on the midrib below.

Description: In 1852, privet was introduced to the United States for use as an ornamental shrub and is still commonly used as a hedge. Ligustrum spp. (privet) are perennial shrubs that can grow up to 16 feet in height. The bark is grayish-tan with a smooth texture. Leaves are oval shaped, oppositely arranged on twigs. Each flower has petals fused into a tube with four separate lobes. The oblong, blue/black fruit is a drupe containing 1 to 4 seeds. Fruit clusters live through the winter. It grows readily from seed or from root and stump sprouts. Wildlife can aid in the dispersal of the seed, often relocating the plant over long distances.

Threat: It is capable of invading natural areas such as floodplain forests and woodlands. The aggressive nature of privets allows for the formation of dense thickets that out compete desirable plants. The amount of seed produced by privet is another mechanism for its prolonged survival. Even though privet is still used in the landscape and available for purchase at garden centers and online distributors, it is an invasive weed and should be treated as such.

Control: Ligustrum spp. control methods include mechanical controls such as mowing and cutting, physical control such as seedling removal and burning, and chemical control such as herbicide application. Herbicide control measures include foliar spraying in late autumn or early spring with glyphosate, triclopyr, or metsulfuron; cut stump applications using glyphosate or triclopyr; and basal bark applications of triclopyr.

Prevention: The first step in preventative control of privet is to limit planting and removal of existing plants within the landscape. If possible, removal should occur before seeds are produced. Since seeds remain on the plant for several months, care must be exercised to prevent seed spread and dispersal during the removal process. For smaller infestations or areas where herbicide applications are not feasible continuous mowing will work, but frequency is key. Hand pull young seedlings and small plants. Larger plants may need to be dug out. Plants should be pulled as soon as possible, before they produce seeds. The entire root must be removed to prevent resprouting.Foliar sprays are effective for dense thickets of Ligustrum. The basal bark method consists of a mixture of 25% triclopyr and 75% horticultural oil applied to the basal parts of the shrub to a height of 12 to 15 inches from the ground. Thourougly spray until run-off is noticeable at the ground line.


Chinese Tallowtree

Chinese TallowtreeDescription: Chinese tallow is a popular ornamental because of its fast growth rate, attractive fall color, and ability to resist damage from pests. It is a small tree that grows to about 20 feet tall, but some specimens can reach  up to 50 feet. It is freely branching with leaves arranged alternately on branches. The leaves have acuminate tips and entire margins, with broadly ovate leaf blades and rounded bases. The Chinese tallow trees has flowers that are attractive to bees and other insects. It produces three-lobed capsule fruit that ripens from August to November. They are deciduous with a strong, deep taproot. This enables young trees to withstand periods of drought. Seeds are spread by birds, and moving water.

Threat: Chinese tallow can invade almost all habitats from wet to dry and from sun to shade. It often grows along roadsides, coastal areas, and streams. Some specimens can produce up to 100,000 seeds that may be eaten and dispersed by birds. Regrowth often occurs from cut stumps or roots. Native species are crowded out once Chinese tallow becomes established. The leaves and fruit are toxic to cattle and cause nausea and other sicknesses in humans.

Control: Prevention is an important control tactic for Chinese tallow. Landowners and homeowners are encouraged to remove full grown trees and seedlings from their property. Seedlings should be continually pulled by hand before they reach maturity. Alternative trees similar in size such as blackgum, maples, dogwood, and crape myrtles can be planted in areas previously occupied by Chinese tallow. Mature trees should be cut down with a chain saw. The final cut should be made as close to the ground as possible and as level as possible. This will make an herbicide application easier as well as prevent resprouting from the cut. Seedling trees can be mowed or disked when small. Burning is also very effective for both small and larger trees. There are no known biological control agents available for the control of Chinese tallow, however, it can be achieved with the use of triclopyr-ester applied in an oil diluent.

Additional Resources:

Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center
Forest Encyclopedia, USDA Forest Service Research Station's
Forest Health Protection-USDA Southern Region

Photo Credits: References
Karan A. Rawlins, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org http://www.bugwood.org
Chris Evans, River to River CWMA, Bugwood.org http://en.wikipedia.org
Ted Bodner, Southern Weed Science Society, Bugwood.org  
Kerry Britton, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org  
Chuck Bargeron, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org