Each of the three Madison County Library locations will have a display identifying native plants that can be used to replace invasive species. The displays will be changed monthly. You will be able to find photos below on previous month's plants. Further information on the culture of these plants can be found on either the Native Plant page or the Invasive plant page.
November's Plants of the Month
October's Plants of the Month
POSSUMHAW, Viburnum nudum Privet, Ligustrum spp.
September's Plants of the Month
NATIVE: American Bittersweet INVASIVE: Oriental Bittersweet
Celastrus scandens Celastrus orbiculatis
Gardeners either love bittersweet vines or hate them. The highly invasive nonnative Oriental bittersweet plants can kill trees and are difficult to eradicate from your landscape while the American bittersweet can be a lovely addition to your garden. During the fall season the vines of both species put on a display few other plants can rival as the dark yellow skin of the berries bursts to reveal an orange jewel within. And not to be outdone by the berries, the plant's fall foliage is a bright yellow that almost glows.
The powerfully invasive oriental species is considered one the worst in the country. It engulfs other vegetation, slowly killing it. The germination of a bittersweet seed in the ground at the base of a tree may seem harmless enough. Yet it won't take long for this invasive vine to make it to the tree's crown like Jack's beanstalk. It can be difficult to imagine a vine killing a tree, but these vines have slain many a giant. Capable of reaching four inches in diameter, the vines wrap so tightly around their victims that the trees are strangled in a process called girdling. In addition, Oriental bittersweet is displacing our native American bittersweet through competition and hybridization.
Many nurseries still sell Oriental bittersweet so be sure and look which species you are buying. Introduced into the U.S. in the 1860s as an ornamental plant, Oriental bittersweet is often associated with old homesites from which it has escaped into surrounding natural areas. It reproduces prolifically by seed which is dispersed to new areas by birds and is still widely planted and maintained as an ornamental vine, further promoting its spread.
American bittersweet is native to North America east of the Rocky Mountains. Although not nearly as invasive as the oriental species, it is a rampant grower and care should be taken not to let it escape into desirable trees or shrubs. It is often used to cover unsightly fences and rock piles. It can be trained up arbors, trellises, and even mature trees, but should never be allowed to climb young trees or shrubs because the vine's twisting woody stems can cut off their sap as they grow. The seeds, although poisonous to humans, seem to do no harm to the birds that eat them in winter. The fruit-bearing branches are often harvested for dried winter decorations.
Because the two bittersweet species look so similar, there can be difficulty knowing which plants to target for control. Using fruit and leaf characters, the two species can be distinguished from one another.
Probably the easiest way is to observe the position of the fruit and flowers on the stems. Oriental bittersweet has its fruit and flowers located in the leaf axils along the length of the stem. A leaf axil is where the leaf is attached to the stem. American bittersweet, however, forms fruits and flowers at the end of each stem. There is also a difference in the color of the capsules surrounding the ripened fruit in the fall. Oriental bittersweet has yellow capsules, while those of American bittersweet are orange.
Management: Where practical, individual vines should be pulled up by the roots and removed from the area by hand. To maintain control, oriental bittersweet should be totally eradicated from the surrounding area where possible. Invading individuals should be pulled immediately and removed upon discovery.
Certain systemic herbicides, such as glyphosate (e.g., Roundup) or triclopyr (e.g., Garlon), that are taken into the roots and kill the entire plant, have been used successfully in bittersweet management. This method is most effective if the stems are first cut by hand or mowed and herbicide is applied immediately to cut stem tissue. In areas where spring wildflowers or other native plants occur, application of herbicides should be conducted prior to their emergence, delayed until late summer or autumn, after the last killing frost occurs, or carefully targeted.
August's Plants of the Month
NATIVE: Milkweed INVASIVE: Butterfly Bush
Here's more information on some of the Here's info on Butterfly bush