Plant Native Vines Instead of Invasive Species Vines: A List of Both Types

One of the most commonly grown vines in the United States is the English Ivy. As the name indicates, it is not native to the U.S. and is an invasive species. In fact, the English Ivy has affected all levels of forested regions, according to the National Park Services.

What is an Invasive or Non Invasive Species?

The U.S. government defines an invasive species as one not native to the ecosystem where planting is being considered. Additionally, introducing such a species causes, or is likely to cause harm that is both economic and environmental, and is also harmful to human health.

On the other hand, a native species is naturally occurring in a particular ecosystem. In this case the vine originated there without benefit of human assistance.

It's important to remember that plants growing in one part of the U.S. may be considered invasive in another area. Different regions are at different elevations, have different soil types and different weather patterns.

How Did These Invasive Vines Get Here?

Various invasive species, such as vines, trees, shrubs, plants and grasses were brought here intentionally, according to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. In fact almost half of the most damaging invasive plants degrading our natural habitats were brought to these shores intentionally for horticultural purposes. Many vines are still being sold for erosion control.

After building highways and roads, the highway departments intentionally planted invasive species in order to establish fast-growing ground covers, especially on sloping areas.

Do They Cause Damage?

Yes, and a classic example is the popular English Ivy - that ivy you see very prettily covering many college buildings and which can dislodge the brickwork. Additionally, the vine is known to twine its way up a tree and destroy it.

Further, when an invasive species is planted in a new ecosystem, they may displace native plants by growing faster and disrupting the nutrient cycle. Invasive species also have a devastating effect on foods that feed native animals.

Damage caused by invasive plants total approximately $120 billion dollars annually. Also, nearly 42 percent of the species on the U.S. List of Endangered and Threatened Species are listed there because of nonnative species. (See link below about how animals wind up on the endangered species list).

Invasive vines are difficult to control and once they get a foothold they are hard to eliminate. Avoiding them is the best solution.

(See the link below for more information about the English Ivy if you are thinking about adding it to your landscape).

How Can You Tell if an Ivy is Not Native?

Sometimes the name will tell you - such as in the case of the English Ivy. Vines that are noninvasive and invasive are listed below.

List of Native Noninvasive Vines:

American Bittersweet

American Climbing Fern

American Wisteria

Virginia Creeper

Allegheny Spurge

Carolina Jessamine

Rock Clematis

Railroad Vine

Scarlet Honeysuckle

Shrub Yellowroot

Trumpet Vine

Pepper Vine

Longleaf Mahonia

Salal

There are many more vines. Be sure to check which are native to your area.

Avoid These Invasive Vines:

English Ivy

Japanese Honeysuckle

Japanese Climbing Fern

Japanese Wisteria

Chinese Wisteria

Oriental Bittersweet

Porcelain Berry

Jasmine

Wood Rose

For information about native species and more see the links below:

More by this Author


Comments 17 comments

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

Thanks so much for putting this list of non-invasive hubs together! The English Ivy that came with our house has provided many object lessons... I'm looking forward to exploring these natives!


janeenjesse@yahoo profile image

janeenjesse@yahoo 4 years ago from Rensselaer NY

Thanks for writing this very important article. In my area of upstate New York we have the most problems with Japanese flowering vines that appear to be morning glories but, they are not! They take over everything. We also have giant hog weed that has a blinding resin and casts shadows over smaller plants killing undergrowth of native plants. Purple loosestrife has taken over thousands of old farms and fields. Invading species are a major problem so, thanks again for bringing light to this issue.


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

This is a great article! I live in Western NY and I had no idea that those "morning glory" type vines in the woods were an invasive Japanese vine! Purple Loosestrife and poison Hemlock are rampant here, too. And Kudzu is infamous in the south - I like the idea of planting native plants!


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 4 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

RTalloni - the English Ivy in my front yard is not even mine - it is coming over from my neighbor's yard and last year he had to take down a tree that had been destroyed by the twining vine. Remember how we were taught to admire all the ivy growing on college buildings - yikes!

janeenjesse@yahoo - I'm glad you included that information about your area in upstate New York and listed the vines and weed. I remember being fascinated with morning glories as a child but now I am wondering if all these plants on my block are actually the Japanese flowering vines. It seems like purple loosestrife is a serious problem. And kudzu in the south, my daughter's large backyard was totally overrun.

leahlefler - thanks for more information from Western NY - down here in the city we are beginning to have a multitude of problems. And neighbors are wondering what is going on. Ah, it is the invasive species - well invading.

My son ripped out his backyard entirely at his new home - I was surprised but he is right - it's best to start totally fresh.

Thanks for the comments - they are so valuable for readers.

I've already written about trees and now I am going to research grasses, shrubs and other plants.


PWalker281 4 years ago

If I were still leaving on the east coast, I would definitely take a closer look at the native vines you list in this informative hub. I can attest from personal experience to how awful English ivy is once it gets a foothold. Rated up and useful.


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 4 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Thank you PWalker. I know exactly what you mean about the English Ivy. We're finally realizing here in NYC that you do not want this in your yard. Down the street from me a brownstone is totally covered in it. We used to think it was pretty but now we know it can also dislodge bricks. Thanks too for the rating!


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 4 years ago

I didn't know that wisteria is one of the non-native plants. I actually have it in my backyard. Oops--now, I know better.


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 4 years ago from East Coast, United States

Great info. I stupidly planted English Ivy that I took from a favorite hill that was about to be destroyed. I took 3 small pieces and now it's all over the place. However, the trumpet vine is all over the place too. But it does draw hummingbirds!


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 4 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

There is an American wisteria anglnwu, that is native - but we also grow here Chinese and Japanese. Maybe you have the native one. So hard to know which is which.

English Ivy has been here so long Delores Monet - who knew. Ah, but glad you have the native trumpet vine - and look how happy you are making the hummingbirds.


TheListLady profile image

TheListLady 4 years ago from New York City

Now I am more aware than ever of English Ivy and oh, good grief in my neighborhood - it is everywhere. Yikes. I don't know if people realize that once it twines up a tree it will kill it.

Thanks for a timely hub. It is on us to effect change. Rated up!


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 4 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

For sure thelistlady -it is all on us. I'm only looking for native species. When I think of what kudzu has done to the South - it has covered the ground, all the plants, shrubs and trees. Where on earth can the animals live and eat?

Thanks for writing.


CountryCityWoman profile image

CountryCityWoman 4 years ago from From New York City to North Carolina

Super hub and oh so timely. We are having a lot of these issues in my neighborhood. People plant anything and then it creeps to other yards. Whew!

Yes, it's up to us to take back sanity. Whew! And rated up and more!


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 4 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

For sure CountryCityWoman - Just because I live in NYC many people think we don't have these issues - but every garden is filled with English Ivy, brownstones are often covered with it - and many of the trees are invasive and they continue to be planted because pollution won't kill them. Sure, so let's keep polluting.

Thanks for the vote too!


jacobkuttyta profile image

jacobkuttyta 4 years ago from Delhi, India

Very informative hub. Thanks for sharing about English Ivy


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 4 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Thanks for commenting Dylesten!

Glad you found the English Ivy information useful jacobkuttyta!


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 4 years ago from East Coast, United States

Hi, BK, back again to say that trumpet creeper seems invasive to me. I planted it for the hummingbirds and because it's native. But the stuff is popping up all over the place. If I didn't dig it up, we'd be covered with it.


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 4 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Thanks for the tip Delores Monet. Now I know we have to be cautious with this plant. I wonder if it is invasive just to your area of the US. Or if it should just be planted on slopes. There is so much to what is invasive and noninvasive that it is overwhelming. Thanks for coming back and sharing your experience.

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