Tree Notes is about trees -- especially native trees, trees for wildlife, and trees in history.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Top 14 Invasive Species in Kentucky

Exotic plants, diseases and pests are a problem in the Commonwealth.



  • Bush honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii)
  • Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica)
  • Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei)
  • Tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima)
  • Multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora)
  • Kudzu (Peuraria lobata)
  • Musk-thistle (Carduus nutans)
  • Poison hemlock (Conium macalatum)
  • Sudden oak death (Phytophthora ramorum)
  • Hemlock wooly adelgid (Adelges tsugae)
  • Johnsongrass (Sorghum halepense)
  • Gipsy moth (Lymantria dispar L.)
  • Fire ant (Solenopsis invicta)
  • Emerald ash borer (Agrilis planipennis)

This list was compiled by members of University of Kentucky's Invasive Species Working Group, and published in the Summer, 2007 edition (Volume 8, Number 2, page 11) of The Magazine, (College of Agriculture, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky 40546)

It is noted at the bottom of the list that soybean rust is also an invasive species that causes a lot of trouble in Kentucky and all of the United States.

Emerald ash borer is certainly an imminent threat because it has been found very close to Kentucky borders, but according to, the UK's official emerald ash borer website, it has not yet been discovered in the commonwealth. This sad event will almost certainly occur -- but I don't think we're quite there yet. Monitoring for it is already taking a toll in resources, though.

The fungus that causes sudden oak death was not found in a 2006 Kentucky nursery survey, though other fungi in the same phylum were identified. We are at high risk for widespread damage from sudden oak death because of the species that make up many of our forests, most particularly red oak. Currently, we have a quarantine against all California-grown nursery stock.

In my own yard, I battle with Johnsongrass, Japanese honeysuckle, and Musk thistle. I have a personal understanding of why these invasive plants are a big problem wherever they grow. If I had written the list, I would have cited Bermudagrass also.

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1 comments -- please add yours:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this. I'm writing a report for an environmental organization and this will be very helpful.

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Enrich your life with the study of trees.

"The power to recognize trees at a glance without examining their leaves or flowers or fruit as they are seen, for example, from the car-window during a railroad journey, can only be acquired by studying them as they grow under all possible conditions over wide areas of territory. Such an attainment may not have much practical value, but once acquired it gives to the possessor a good deal of pleasure which is denied to less fortunate travelers."

Charles Sprague Sargent (1841-1927)

Print references I frequently consult

Benvie, Sam. Encyclopedia of North American Trees. Buffalo, NY: Firefly, 2000.

Brockman, C. Frank. Trees of North America: A Guide to Field Identification. Ed. Herbert S. Zim. New York: Golden, 1986.

Cliburn, Jerry, and Ginny Clomps. A Key to Missouri Trees in Winter: An Identification Guide. Conservation Commission of the State of Missouri, 1980.

Collingwood, G. H., Warren David Brush, and Devereux Butcher. Knowing Your Trees. Washington: American Forestry Association, 1978.

Dirr, Michael. Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs: an Illustrated Encyclopedia. Portland, Or.: Timber, 1997.

Elias, Thomas S. The Complete Trees of North America; Field Guide and Natural History. New York: Book Division, Times Mirror Magazines, 1980.

Grimm, William Carey. The Book of Trees;. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole, 1962.

Hightshoe, Gary L. Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines for Urban and Rural America: a Planting Design Manual for Environmental Designers. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1988.

Little, Elbert L. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees. New York: Chanticleer, 1996.

Martin, Alexander C., Herbert S. Zim, and Arnold L. Nelson. American Wildlife and Plants. New York: McGraw Hill, 1951.

Mitchell, Alan F., and David More. The Trees of North America. New York, NY: Facts On File Publications, 1987.

Randall, Charles E. Enjoying Our Trees. Washington: American Forestry Association, 1969.

Settergren, Carl D., and R. E. McDermott. Trees of Missouri. Columbia: University Extension, 1995.

Sternberg, Guy, and James W. Wilson. Native Trees for North American Landscapes: from the Atlantic to the Rockies. Portland: Timber, 2004.

Wharton, Mary E., and Roger W. Barbour. Trees and Shrubs of Kentucky. Lexington: University of Kentucky, 1973.

Wyman, Donald. Trees for American Gardens. New York: Macmillan, 1965.

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