Public Works and Environmental Services

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Our administrative offices are open to the public by appointment only at this time. Please call or email 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday - Friday

TTY 711

12000 Government Center Parkway
Suite 448 Fairfax, VA 22035

Sharon North,
Public Information Officer

What are Invasive Plants?

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A plant is a plant, right? Unfortunately, not all plants are universally beneficial. You may have heard of kudzu, an invasive known as the “vine that ate the south.” When plants are imported from other parts of the world, either accidentally or on purpose, they have the chance to escape into the natural environment. When they are able to take root, these newcomers have the potential to overwhelm the existing environment. They especially thrive where the existing natural forest has been altered or disturbed, which is common in urban and suburban areas.

Invasive plants have different impacts on their environment but are usually characterized by a few factors: unrestricted growth and no predators. These qualities allow them to outgrow native vegetation and even stifle forest regeneration by outcompeting young trees. Some invasive plants even produce toxic compounds which inhibit other plants from growing. Over many generations, existing forests may disappear if continuously overrun with invasive plants.

invasive plant
An invasive plant (porcelain berry vine) overwhelms and envelops a stream bank near McLean, VA. Left to continue as is, this forest will die.

What can you do? You can do your part by removing these plants from your property. Do not purchase or install plants that may become invasive (see the list for Northern Virginia, Department of Conservation and Recreation Virginia Invasive Plant Species List). There are also volunteer opportunities to help take back the forest from invasive plants in local parks. Stay tuned for another article which will highlight several invasive plants and how to manage them.

For more information or if you are interested in volunteer events, please visit Fairfax County Park Authority’s Invasive Management Area website. Or call the Urban Forester of the Day at 703-324-1770, TTY 711.

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