Tennessee Exotic Pest Plant Council

 September 1, 2014

Our Mission

To protect Tennessee's unique natural heritage from the ecological and economic harm of invasive plants through research, education, and policy. 

Noteworthy News
TN-EPPC Board Member Changes

Recently, TN-EPPC has had some changes on our Board of Directors. Dr. Jack Ranney stepped in as acting President, Kitty McCracken will serve as our new Vice President, Margie Hunter remains our ever diligent Secretary and Alix Pfennigwerth began her term as Treasurer.  Justin Coffey was elected to serve on the Board.  We are grateful to Marie Tackett, Sara Keubbing, LinnAnn Welch and Andrea Bishop for the time they dedicated to serving the organization as past officers.
Jack Ranney, New TN-EPPC President
Letter from the President


These are exciting times in Tennessee. Invasive plant awareness is at an all-time high, and people are partnering more than ever to get invasive plants under control. Prevention, early detection, mapping (to help guide control efforts) and best management practices are all being refined to do a better job. Experience is a wonderful teacher. At the same time I still see too much to do, especially with respect to landscaping, our greenways, city parks and areas bordering natural areas. It sometimes seems overwhelming but this shouldn't stop us. We just need to think locally. The tools and partners we presently have can get invasive plants under control. This is what TN-EPPC is working to encourage and we have to work together. Toward this end, our Board is now soliciting your input on what TN-EPPC ought to be doing, who we need to work with most and how we can get more people involved.


I am personally concerned about the cumulative effects of the factors affecting the growth and aggressiveness of invasive plants. For example, enriched atmospheric carbon dioxide alters the way many plants grow, especially invasive ones. Add to this air pollution, more severe storm and drought events, habitat fragmentation and disturbance, increased ultraviolet light, altered humidity and increasing temperatures to name a few. It is imperative we be prepared for these changes regarding invasive plant behavior in connection with stressed ecosystems and their services that are often taken for granted. Of course, people remain the primary concern, and knowledge is power. I hope TN-EPPC can help in getting some of this information to you from the research community. However, it remains extremely important that we all think and act locally on managing invasive plants in our own communities.


I especially want to thank the Board for their outstanding commitment toward working so cooperatively with people in so many different disciplines. They are all volunteers. That means all donated resources go to projects, not salaried administrators. We want to get invasive plants under control in Tennessee. Please let us know what we can do to help you manage invasive plants in your area.


Featured Non-native Invasive Plant
Nandina domestica Thunb.
Sacred Bamboo, Nandina, Heavenly Bamboo

Nandina is ranked as an alert species by TN-EPPC and is considered invasive in North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.  It was placed on the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council's invasive list as a Category I species, the highest listing. 
Nandina is widely grown in gardens as an ornamental plant and is still being grown and sold for planting in landscapes

Nandina is an evergreen erect shrub to 8 feet (2.5 m) in height with multiple bushy stems that resemble bamboo.


Large compound leaves of Nandina resemble leafy branches. Woody leafstalk bases persist as stubby branches, and their overlapping sheaths encase the main stem imparting the appearance of bamboo and giving rise to the common name. Stubby branches whorl alternately up the stem and are tightly stacked near the end for a given year's growth. Stems are fleshy and greenish gray near the tip, becoming woody barked and tan to brown with fissures towards the base. The wood is bright yellow.


Leaves are alternately whorled and bipinnately compound on 1.5 to 3 feet (0.5 to 1 m) slender leafstalks that are often reddish tinged with joints distinctly segmented. Leafstalk bases clasp stems with a V-notch on the opposite side of attachment. Nine to eighty-one nearly sessile leaflets, lanceolate to diamond-shaped, are 0.5 to 4 inches (1.2 to 10 cm) long and 0.4 to 1.2 inches (1 to 3 cm) wide. Leaflets are a glossy light to dark green and are sometimes red tinged or burgundy.



From May to July, the plant produces terminal (or axillary) panicles of several hundred fragrant flowers 4 to 10 inches (10 to 25 cm) long. Buds are pink and open white to cream with three (two to four) lanceolate deciduous petals and yellow anthers 0.2 to 0.3 inch (6 to 8 mm) long.



Fruit and Seeds

Dense terminal and axillary clusters of fleshy, spherical berries 0.2 to 0.3 inch (6 to 8 mm) appear September to December. Light green ripening to bright red, each berry contains two hemispherical seeds.  Nandina fruit has recently been implicated in bird mortality (see article below).


Life History


Nandina is a woody shrub popularly used in landscapes because of its evergreen compound foliage, panicles of white flowers, and showy clusters of bright red fruit fall into winter. Numerous cultivars demonstrate a variety of leaf colors. Some cultivars do not produce viable seed. Nandina will flower and fruit quite well even in heavy shade and colonizes by root sprouts and spreads by animal-dispersed seeds. It is in the Berberidaceae or Barberry family.



Due to its shade tolerance, Nandina occurs under forest canopies and near forest edges. Seedlings are frequent in the vicinity of old landscape plantings.

Origin and Distribution

It was introduced from eastern Asia and India in the early 1800s and has been widely planted as an ornamental. It is now escaped and spreading from around old homes.


Sources: Information on this plant page is derived primarily from James H. Miller's Nonnative Invasive Plants of Southern Forests, USDA Forest Service.


Management recommendations and photos can be found on our website.


Workshops & Seminars

During the year, TN-EPPC may host one or more workshops or seminars, including our annual meeting, at various locations around the state. These events include topics on invasive plant identification, management recommendations, chemical control, and alternative landscaping options, as well as updates on TN-EPPC's projects and regional and national issues that impact our state. Commercial pesticide applicator recertification points are usually available in several categories. 


Our next events will be our 20th Anniversary Conference, to be held in Nashville this February 27, 2015 (details below) and we have a community workshop planned in Memphis on February 7, 2015. 

Invasive Plant Treatment at Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area and Obed Wild and Scenic River


By Justin Coffey, Biological Science Technician


Extensive infestations, industrious seed banks, and re-occurring disturbances have led the way for dozens of non-native invasive plant species to be found at National Parks on the Cumberland Plateau.  The Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area and Obed Wild and Scenic River are inhabited by various types of non-native plant invaders, but invasive plants that take hold along the alluvial bars and riverbanks drive much of the focus of resource managers for these National Park units.  Some invasive species found cause significant problems that resource managers have set high priority goals to control.  Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin), autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata), multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora), and tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima) are four of the most prevalent invaders to these National Parks' riverine areas.  Where found, these four species hinder the establishment and growth of globally rare and unique flora found along these rivers and their major tributaries.  The heavy seeding and opportunistic nature of these four species allows them to outcompete native species and overcrowd typical areas where historically some of the most biologically diverse vegetation communities are located.


Resource management staff map, target, and monitor invasive plants found inhabiting the riverbanks and alluvial bars at the Big South Fork and Obed rivers.  Through the use of mechanical and herbicidal methods, staff have successfully treated and controlled 55 miles of river-edge over the last 3 years.  Park staff have devoted hundreds of hours to removing thousands of individual plants, which increases the likelihood that the biologically diverse vegetation communities of the Cumberland Plateau remain natural and native in character.  The mission of the National Park Service is to preserve, unimpaired, the natural beauty of these parks for the enjoyment of present and future generations.  I can't think of a better way to achieve that mission than to keep our vegetation communities native in character and limit the encroachment of non-native invasive species.


Native Plant Corner
By Mike Berkley

When I am asked to present a native substitute for an invasive, exotic plant, my first question is, "what is it about the exotic plant that you like?" Is it the flower color? Does it have significant fall color? Fragrance? After that discussion I then try to match the desires of the gardener to some of the native plants with similar traits.

Heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica), has been routinely used in residential and commercial landscapes in North America for decades. With the introduction of cultivars, there are many shapes and forms available as well. Most people don't realize that nandina can become invasive. However, we are now finding seedlings popping up in the wild and there is great concern about negative environmental impact.

Most people like nandina for its red berries. As attractive as they are, they have recently been linked to bird deaths. The native winterberry (Ilex verticillata) and its cultivars would be an excellent substitute. As the name implies, this plant is most beautiful in winter, with bright red berries and no foliage. It is dioecious, so there will have to be a male plant around to give the female its berries. Typically, winterberry will grow up to 8 feet tall, but there are many dwarf varieties available in the trade.

Many people also like nandina for the foliage, especially the fall color. There are a couple of native shrubs that make good replacements from that perspective. Virginia sweetspire (Itea virginica) not only has spectacular fall color but has beautiful fragrant white blooms too! Many cultivars are available, from "Davis Falls," at around 3 feet tall, to "Saturnalia," which can grow up to 6 feet. By the way, the variety "Saturnalia" was found in the wild in Tennessee!

The Dwarf Witchalder (Fothergilla gardenia) is another attractive shrub to use instead of nandina. Fall colors range from yellow-orange to red. The white blooms occur in April and have a honey-like scent.

All of these native shrubs are readily available at any garden center. Ironically, these native substitutes are many times displayed next to the invasive, exotic and not-so heavenly bamboo! Now you will have some good alternatives when making your selection.

News and Resources

Biological Resource Management Division
New mobile tool developed for invasive plant identification 

The Biological Resource Management Division has collaborated with the Early Detection & Distribution Mapping System (EDDMapS) to develop a mobile application for Servicewide early detection of invasive plants.  Read through the NPS Morning Report for the Full Article.   


Nandina berries kill birds

Audubon - Arkansas

When dozens of Cedar Waxwings were found dead in Thomas County, Georgia, researchers at the College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, found the cause to be Nandina berries.  Full Article


International scientific team criticizes adoption of 'novel ecosystems' by policymakers
August 18, 2014, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Embracing 'novel' ecosystems is dangerous, according to a new study by a team including a University of Tennessee, Knoxville, professor.  Full Article 


Two Tennessee wildflowers to be put on endangered list
August 7, 2014, The Tennessean
Two rare wildflowers in Tennessee long considered at risk for extinction will be added to the federal endangered species list.  Full Article


Stakeholders and TVA finding balance in fight against water weeds
August 6, 2014, Scottsboro
There are two main invasive weeds in Lake Guntersville, hydrilla and milfoil. Neither plants are native to the lake. In fact it's believed that milfoil entered the Tennessee River system by someone dumping a home aquarium in the Watts Bar Lake, upriver from Lake Guntersville.  Full Article


Kudzu heads north
July 27, 2014, Chicago
As the climate warms, the vine that ate the South is starting to gnaw at parts of the North, too. 


With privet gone, native plants and pollinators return

Research shows long-term benefits of removing Chinese privet from forests

July 15, 2014, USFS Southern Research Station

Forests infested with privet invoke a kind of despair in people attuned to the problem of invasive plants. Privet invades a forest quickly, sprawling across the understory and growing into thickets that crowd out native plants and change the very ecology of an area. Even if the woody shrub can be removed effectively, can a forest return to any semblance of its previous condition? Full Article


Exotic, invasive plant species impact the ability of soils to store carbon

July 2, 2014, Science World Report

It turns out that invasive species may be causing even more damage to the environment than first thought. Researchers have found that exotic plants, such as Japanese knotweed, can actually accelerate the greenhouse effect by affecting the ability of soil to store greenhouse gases. 

Full Article


Rapid evolution aids spread of exotic plant species

May 23, 2014, ScienceDaily

The first genetic evidence that rapid evolution can help non-native plant species spread in new environments has been presented by a team of biologists. Full Article


Native plants a wise landscaping option
April 22, 2014, Sprinfield
When it comes to attractive plants on lawns and in flower gardens, beauty doesn't have to be imported from elsewhere. Native varieties work well, too.  Full Article

September 13, 2014

Native Seed Propagation Workshop with Heather Summer, NCBG Seed Program Coordinator; North Carolina Botanical Garden


September 13, 2014

Salamander Ball at the Knoxville Zoo; Discover Life in America


October 15, 2014

Woods and Wildlife; Forest Resources AgResearch Center--Oak Ridge Forest (Oak Ridge, TN)


October 15 - October 17, 2014

Deeply Rooted in Restoration / 41st Annual Natural Areas Conference; Dayton, Ohio


November 12 - 14, 2014

A Joint Symposium of GA-EPPC and SE-EPPC; Athens, GA


February 7, 2015

TN-EPPC Memphis Community Workshop, Memphis Botanical Garden

More information will be posted soon on our website:


February 27, 2015

TN-EPPC at Twenty: A Look Back, A Vision Forward

We had to postpone our conference due to low registration numbers. We are hoping for a better turn-out at a less busy time of year. We will still have the same keynote speaker, Dr. Dan Simberloff, and a similar focus. More details to follow. Registration will open in October. We hope to see you there!


Membership in TN-EPPC is open to anyone with an interest in the problem of invasive exotic plants, their identification, impacts, and control. Our members include professional land managers, private landowners, individual homeowners, public and private recreation areas, educational institutions, conservation and gardening organizations, and government agencies. Join us by becoming a member online, payment through PayPal.
Follow us on Twitter! 

TN-EPPC recently began tweeting!  Click the twitter link at the bottom of this page to keep up with us on a more frequent basis. 

Join Our Mailing List
Feel free to contact any TNEPPC Board Member with questions or comments about invasive, nonnative plants.  Our contact information can be found on our website.  We'd love to hear from you!


    Follow us on Twitter