Major sources for invasive plants are escaped plants from gardens or yards. Even today some of the worst invaders such as exotic bush honeysuckle are glossy buckthorn are still available for purchase. View Cultivating Awareness: Ornamental Plants Invading Natural Areas for more information on how some common landscaping plants can become serious problems. The use of native trees and shrubs not only eliminates the possibility of escape, but native plants are better suited for local soils and climate to begin with. They support better infiltration of rain water, maintain natural food resources and cover for native wildlife, and support local ecosystems through the diverse services they provide.
Below are lists of native alternatives to common non-native trees such as Scots pine and black locust, shrubs like Japanese barberry, and flowers such as Forget-me-nots. The characteristics of the site you are planting will determine what native plants are most suitable. Before you plant, consider contacting a local forester or natural resources professional for guidance. There is also a smartphone app available focused on plant species that are used ornamentally and have become invasive in at least part of the Midwest. The app can help you make decisions about the best alternatives to these species in your landscaping or garden.
Check out the Wisconsin Native Plants for landscaping and natural communities at https://dnr.wi.gov/files/pdf/pubs/nh/nh0936.pdf.
Further information on all of the species listed below can be found at the following websites:
Pin cherry (Prunus pensylvanica)
Nannyberry (Virburnum lentago)
Red-oiser dogwood (Cornus stolonifera)
Common elderberry (Sambucus canadensis)
Prairie rose (Rosa arkansana)
Beaked hazel (Corylus cornuta)
Pussy willow (Salix discolor)
Speckled alder (Alnus incana)
Black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa)
Fireberry hawthorn (Crataegus chrysocara)
Red maple (Acer rubrum)
Sugar maple (Acer saccharum)
Red oak (Quercus rubra)
Yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis)
Paper birch (Betula papyrifera)
Basswood (Tilia americana)
Green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica)
Balsam fir (Abies balsamia)
White pine (Pinus strobus)
Red pine (Pinus resinosa)
White spruce (Picea glauca)
White cedar (Thuja occidentalis)
Red columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)
Smooth aster (Aster laevis)
Big-leaved aster (Aster macrophyllus)
Canada anemone (Anemone canadensis)
Wild geranium (Geranium maculatum)
Great blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica)
Bee balm (Monarda fistulosa)
Black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
Grass-leaved goldenrod (Euthamia graminifolia)
Blue vervain (Verbena hastata)
Little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)
Wool grass (Scirpus cyperinus)
Fowl manna (Glyceria striata)
Canada wild rye (Elymus canadensis)
Soft rush (Juncus effuses)
Spike rush (Eleocharis palustris)
Great bulrush (Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani)
Fox sedge (Carex stipata)
Bristly sedge (Carex comosa)
Lake sedge (Carex lenticularis)
Interested in getting involved in native planting? Wild Ones is a non-profit group that promotes environmentally sound landscaping practices to preserve biodiversity through the preservation, restoration, and establishment of native plant communities. While Wild Ones is a national organization, Door County has its own chapter whose information can be found on the Wild Ones webpage.
Additional Resources: The Wisconsin DNR has created a brochure that lists nurseries and landscapers specializing in native plants throughout the State of Wisconsin. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has also created a useful website about landscaping with native plants in the Great Lakes Region—including how to get started, the benefits of landscaping with natives, state resources, and lists of Great Lakes native plants for all habitat types.
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