Some common Texas plants are actually non-native, do you know which ones?
Sometimes, a new species can stick around for so long, we forget it wasn’t native in the first place.
RELATED: Battling Invasive Aquatic Species
These are just four species found in Texas that might seem common, but are, in fact, foreign invaders.
View the slideshow to see which Texas plants are indeed invasive, and see how they’re affecting the Texan habitat.
They’re known for their smooth, pale trunks, fluffy, pink, pom-pom flowers, bean-like seed pods, and their perfume scent. They’re often found in the yards and pathways of gardeners and landscapers looking to give a yard an ornamental touch. They are known by many names: Mimosa, Silk Tree, and even Silky Acacia.
They are also a potentially detrimental invasive species.
Imported to the US from China in 1745, the mimosa tree swiftly gained popularity as an ornamental plant due to its unique appearance, fragrant flowers, and its staunch durability. The mimosa tree can grow in various soils, resprout even after suffering damage, and can even take advantage of disturbed or contaminated earth.
While this durability makes it a reliable tree for those who plant it purposefully, uncontrolled mimosas can grow in dense clusters, reducing the sunlight and nutrients available to local fauna. Additionally, they can grow with alarming ease along waterlines, making access difficult for other plants and animals.
Like the mimosa, Chinaberry arrived in the US as an ornamental tree in the mid 19th Century. Initially, it did its job well. The beautiful tree has a unique, musky order, produces clusters of lovely lavender flowers, and even creates poisonous yellow berries that have been useful in the creation of pesticides.
However, this Himalayan tree has brought with it fresh problems. It grows swiftly, able to reach a height of 24 feet in just five years. Some have even been known to reach 60 feet in height. Its leaf litter is also known to raise soil pH, which can either kill off local flora or prevent it from reproducing. The trees are hard to kill, proving resistant to most insects and pathogens. It just goes to show, all seemingly good things come with a price.
With a name like alligatorweed, you know this aquatic plant is anything but pleasant.
Listed as a Federal Noxious Weed, the alligatorweed is non-succulent, and its white flowers contain sharp, unpleasant spikes. Worse still, alligatorweed grows in thick mats, soaking up sunlight, nutrients, and dissolved oxygen, effectively killing off local vegetation. Because it grows so thick, it is also known to impede draining during floods, water flow for irrigation, and it inhibits fishing. And it’s not just an American problem. This weed is becoming a serious problem in more than 30 countries across the world!
So how did it get this bad? Originally from South America, alligatorweed likely traveled around the globe in the early 20th Century by clinging to unwashed machinery. From there, it spreads quickly through the water, and it’s almost impossible to kill.
King Ranch Bluestem
You’ve probably seen King Ranch Bluestem anywhere you’ve seen long stretches of ranch land. That’s because, unlike many foreign species of plant that have since dominated their new area, the King Ranch Bluestem was planted on purpose and encouraged to spread.
Of course, like most invasive species, the bluestem has the ability to wipe out existing grasses in areas where it has taken root and is almost impossible to eradicate. It also decreases bird and insect diversity, and has also been noted to be an excellent host plant for the red streaked leafhopper, a type of grasshopper known to cause devastation in local sugar cane. So why would ranchers encourage this grass to grow all throughout the Southern US? Because it is hardy and excellent for grazing.
Originally from Europe and Northern Africa, this grass can survive in a wide variety of weather conditions. So whatever the consequences of this now-common roadside grass, the benefits, at least initially, are greater.