The scourge of invasive plants in Massachusetts
Updated: Apr 18, 2021
Introduced invasive plants are one of the biggest threats to local co-evolved ecosystems because they outcompete, displace, and eventually kill the native plants that support the foraging and habitat needs of insects, birds and other wildlife within these communities.
The Massachusetts Invasive Plant Advisory Group has identified 66 invasive plant species in Massachusetts. Most of these species were introduced either accidentally or on purpose through the nursery/horticultural trade.
Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) is one of the most infamous species of invasive plants in the Northeast, noticeable particularly along roadsides, highways, and fields in Massachusetts and throughout the Northeast.
A native of Asia, Oriental Bittersweet was introduced to North America in the late 1880s as an ornamental plant, beautiful especially in the fall when its vines produce copious fiery red and orange fruits. One can find the thick unruly vines of Oriental Bittersweet smothering stands of native trees and shrubs throughout Massachusetts, including in Weston.
Oriental bittersweet. Image by A. Purcel - Own work, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=63787436
Mass Audubon is at the forefront of efforts in the state to tackle the threat of invasive plant species. Use their Invasive Plant Species Guide to help identify and manage common invasive plants in and around your home.