Invasive Trees and Shrubs

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Many of the trees we see growing on Long Island are highly invasive and non-native — commonly Chinese exotics brought here over 200 years ago. Today most Long Island soils harbor viable seeds dispersed from their descendants via wind, birds, or mammals years to decades ago. Under the right circumstances — often sun exposure when land is cleared — these seeds will germinate and grow to out-compete native species.

Long Island’s invasive trees and shrubs include the ubiquitous tree-of-heaven, Japanese angelica, Norway maple, and sycamore maple, plus some newcomers such as glossy buckthorn and Callery pear, as well as the thorny multiflora rose  shrub.  Tree and Shrub Removal addresses removing small seedlings and saplings — defined as young trees four inches or less in diameter at breast height. Larger tree removal may require a town permit and some trees may need to be debarked before cutting to prevent roots from sprouting.

The best time of year to address woody plants (trees and shrubs) is late fall or on a warm day in winter. Woodies are easier to uproot intact after the ground has cycled between freeze and thaw; insulated coats and gloves protect against thorns; and there’s better access to the woody plants once forbs and poison ivy leaves have withered.

Soon after removing tree seedlings and saplings, cover the open ground with mulch (a thick layer of leaves) or replace them with native, shade loving plants (plugs or seeds) such as white wood aster Eurybia divericata, and then mulch. This hardy, fast growing species is a beautiful shade loving weed suppressant. It self-seeds, blooms throughout September and is a source of nectar and pollen for native pollinators. Click Native Plants in Recent Posts: