Invasive Plants Series: Spirea

I would guess that either you or your next-door neighbor have at least one Japanese spirea in your landscape (Spirea japonica). Yup, you guessed it. Most of them are invasive here in the Mid-Atlantic.


A few, but certainly not all, commercially available Spirea are sterile (cannot produce viable seed). If you are considering purchasing one, do some research and find out if the one you want is sterile. And then plant only that one variety. Keep in mind that some supposedly sterile plant introductions turn out to be not so sterile in real world applications where they may cross pollinate with non-sterile neighbors or may revert to the characteristics of one of its parent plants.


This Asian species loves disturbed sites, will grow in a wide range of soils, often growing along roadsides, ditches and forest edges. Do I sound like a broken record yet? This guy also likes stream sides, and its hundreds of seeds are easily dispersed by water. They have also been found to contaminate fill dirt, thereby spreading to new construction sites. More broken record: Japanese spirea form dense colonies, outcompeting native plants. This one is extra special in that it also creates a nice seed bank in the soil, making it even harder to eradicate.


To remove, pull while the soil is moist, repeatedly cut or mow, and/or use herbicides.


Sources: DCNR, Invasive Plants Atlas, "Identification of Sterile, Noninvasive Cultivars of Japanese Spirea" in HortScience, Authors: Rhiannon L. Wilson and William A. Hoch


PHOTO: SamuelStone on Pixabay

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