Deer in Spring Landscape

Maryland's Wild Acres

Creating a Wild Backyard - Bad Plants Planted by Good People

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Photos of Japanese Barberry, Day Lily, Purple Loosestrife, Perwinkle and Water Hyacinth

When you go to the nursery, you might have the best intentions of redesigning your landscape to attract wildlife. However, not all plants sold in nurseries and at stores are good for wildlife and the environment. When selecting plants for backyard wildlife habitat, native species are generally the best choices. Unfortunately, native species are not always readily available at most commercial nurseries. So, your best plan of action is to go to the store armed with knowledge to avoid purchasing problem plants. To begin, let’s define what is considered to be native, non-native and invasive.

  • Native: species which naturally occur in a region (like Maryland)
  • Non-Native: species which do not naturally occur in a region
  • Invasive: non-native species that cause environmental, economic or health-related problems
  • Invasive species are problematic, and their introductions into natural systems can be intentional or unintentional. Invasive species can be animals, plants, fungi and even microbes. Billions of dollars are spent each year in the United States to control invasive species. It has been estimated that $45 million per year is spent on control of the invasive Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) on federal lands. That’s a lot of cash!

    Abandoned house being engulfed by Japanese knotweed in Savage, MD, photo by Kerry Wixted

    One way you can help with the battle against invasive plants is to not plant them in your yard. The following list contains species currently sold at nurseries that should be avoided. It should be noted that not all non-native plants are invasive, and there are plenty of non-native plants which can be used to enhance your backyard wildlife habitat. Check out pages found on the Wild Acres site here for more information on desirable species for wildlife.

    Some of Maryland’s Problem Plants

    Habit

    Common Name

    Scientific Name

    Aquatic

    Eurasian watermilfoil

    Myriophyllum spicatum

    Aquatic

    Flowering rush

    Butomus umbellatus

    Aquatic

    Parrot feather

    Myriophyllum aquaticum

    Aquatic

    Water chestnut

    Trapa natans

    Aquatic

    Water hyacinth

    Eichhornia crassipes

    Forbs

    Carpet bugleweed, Bugleweed, Ajuga

    Ajuga reptans

    Forbs

    Japanese knotweed

    Polygonum cuspidatum

    Forbs

    Japanese pachysandra, Pachysandra

    Pachysandra terminalis

    Forbs

    Loosestrife, Creeping Jenny, Moneywort

    Lysimachia nummularia

    Forbs

    Orange daylily

    Hemerocallis fulva

    Forbs

    Perilla, Beefsteak plant

    Perilla frutescens

    Forbs

    Yellow flag iris

    Iris pseudacorus

    Grass

    Cogongrass

    Imperata cylindrica

    Grass

    Common reed

    Phragmites australis

    Grass

    Japanese silver grass

    Miscanthus sinensis

    Grass

    Johnson grass

    Sorghum halepense

    Grass

    Pampas grass

    Cortaderia selloana

    Shrub

    Butterfly bush

    Buddleia davidii

    Shrub

    Chinese privet

    Ligustrum sinense

    Shrub

    Heavenly bamboo

    Nandina domestica

    Shrub

    Japanese barberry

    Berberis thunbergii

    Shrub

    Japanese holly

    Ilex crenata

    Shrub

    Japanese spiraea

    Spiraea japonica

    Shrub

    Leatherleaf mahonia

    Mahonia bealei

    Shrub

    Scotch broom

    Cytisus scoparius

    Shrub

    Wineberry

    Rubus phoenicolasius

    Shrub

    Winged euonymus

    Euonymus alatus

    Tree

    Amur corktree, Phellodendron

    Phellodendron amurense

    Tree

    Bradford pear

    Pyrus calleryana

    Tree

    Chinese tallow

    Triadica sebifera

    Tree

    Goldenrain tree

    Koelreuteria paniculata

    Tree

    Norway maple

    Acer platanoides

    Tree

    Sawtooth oak

    Quercus acutissima

    Vine

    Chinese wisteria

    Wisteria sinensis

    Vine

    Chinese yam

    Dioscorea oppositifolia

    Vine

    English ivy

    Hedera helix

    Vine

    Japanese wisteria

    Wisteria floribunda

    Vine

    Periwinkle

    Vinca minor

    Vine

    Vinca vine

    Vinca major

    Vine

    Winter creeper

    Euonymus fortunei


    It should be noted that this is not an exhaustive list, but these are some of the more commonly planted problem plants. When in doubt, research the plant you are interested in to see if it is invasive. The Maryland Invasive Species Council (MISC) also has good information on invasive species in Maryland as well as well as the National Invasive Species Council.

    For Additional Information, Contact:

    Kerry Wixted
    Wildlife and Heritage Service
    580 Taylor Ave, E-1
    Annapolis, MD 21401
    kwixted@dnr.state.md.us
    Phone: 410-260-8566
    Fax: 410-260-8596

    Acknowledgements:

  • Purple Loosestrife Flowers, courtesy of Linda Wilson, University of Idaho
  • All  other photographs by Kerry Wixted
  • We want to hear from you!

    Letters, e-mail, photos, drawings. Let us know how successful you are as you create wildlife habitat on your property.  Complete the online Habichat Reader's Survey.

    Join the Wild Acres E-Mail List

    Write to Me!

    Kerry Wixted
    Natural Resources Biologist II
    Maryland Wildlife and Heritage Service
    MD Dept of Natural Resources
    580 Taylor Ave., E-1
    Annapolis MD  21401

    phone: 410-260-8566
    fax: 410-260-8596
    e-mail: kwixted@dnr.state.md.us

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