Tennessee Exotic Pest Plant Council

April, 2015
Our Mission

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

Kitty McCracken, Interim TN-EPPC President
Letter from the President


Spring is here in Tennessee, and TN-EPPC has had a busy winter, with the success of our twenty-year anniversary conference, which was held at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens and Art Museum in February. We had over 50 attendees who heard seven excellent presentations, followed by a lively panel discussion. This discussion outlined what TN-EPPC as an organization is doing successfully now, and it helped us define the directions we want to go in the future.   Facilitating partnerships between federal, state and local agencies, private and public landowners and individual homeowners will be among our continuing efforts. Educational outreach will be one of our prime directions, not only through identification, mapping and removal methods for current invasive plants, but also with efforts to teach the value of native plant communities and their importance in sustaining various habitats for Tennessee wildlife.

We welcome new TN-EPPC Board member Chris Oswalt, with the US Forest Service in Knoxville. Many thanks go to retiring Board members Anni Self and Sara Kuebbing. Sara received her Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee and currently is a postdoctoral fellow at the Yale University Institute for Biospheric Studies. Anni continues in the Regulatory Services Division of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.

Upcoming events are listed in this newsletter. Enjoy your gardens, greenways and parks!

Visit our website!

News and Resources


New York's ban on invasive species goes into effect 

In a win for New York State's natural areas, new regulations have gone into effect banning a long list of plants and animals that have plagued our fields, forests, and freshwaters. As of March 10, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has made it illegal to buy, sell, or transport 126 species identified as invasive.


Exotic plants nothing new, but they can be a problem  

Springfield News-Leader

In terms of wildlife habitat, introducing exotic plants into an area is sometimes the equivalent of throwing a wrench into the cogs of a machine: In some cases, the machine continues to operate, but at a much reduced efficiency. In other cases, the machine shuts down completely.


Neonicotinoids in your garden

Neonicotinoids are a group of insecticides that are used widely on farms, as well as around our homes, schools, and city landscapes. Used to protect against sap-sucking and leaf-chewing insects, neonicotinoids are systemic, which means they are absorbed by the plant tissues and expressed in all parts, including nectar and pollen. Unfortunately, bees, butterflies, and other flower-visiting insects are harmed by the residues.


Bald eagles are starting to flourish again - but hold the confetti 

Across the South, near reservoirs full of invasive plants from Asia called hydrilla, eagles have been stricken by (a) bacterium, which goes straight to their brains. Eagles prey on American coots, which dine almost exclusively on the plant and are being hit even harder...The only way to save the animals is to spend millions to eradicate a plant that was introduced to the United States in Florida about 60 years ago.


Non-native plants widespread, plenty of space to invade

The first comprehensive assessment of native vs. non-native plant distribution in the continental U.S., finds non-native plant species are much more widespread than natives, a finding the authors call very surprising. Even species with only a handful of occurrences were distributed widely.


Plan to save monarch butterflies backfires

It started with the best of intentions. When evidence emerged that monarch butterflies were losing the milkweed they depend on due to the spread of herbicide-resistant crops in the United States, people across the country took action, planting milkweed in their own gardens. But a new paper shows that well-meaning gardeners might actually be endangering the butterflies' iconic migration to Mexico. That's because people have been planting the wrong species of milkweed, thereby increasing the odds of monarchs becoming infected with a crippling parasite.


Feisty fire ants could cause 'Invasional Meltdown' 

Feisty invasive fire ants known for their painful bite could be helping the spread of invasive plant species in the parts of the North American Northeast in what some scientists call "invasional meltdown."

Featured Non-native Invasive Plant

Lesser celandine, Fig buttercup

Ficaria verna(L.)

Lesser celandine is a threat to ground layer vegetation, particularly spring ephemerals, due to its ability to form dense monocultures.


Height: Low-growing plant made up of basal rosette and flowering stem up to 30cm in height


Leaves: Leaves primarily basal, tightly packed, texture fleshy and glabrous, dark green, shape cordate to oblong with entire or crenate margins, 40-80mm wide, 40-90mm long. Netted venation on undersides. May have bulbils (whitish nodules for vegetative reproduction) in axils of leaves.


Stem: Stem indistinct. Plant primarily made up of rosette of leaves and flowering stalk.


Flowers: One per plant, 2-6cm wide, petals yellow, generally 6-26 petals per flower, 3 green sepals, petioles 10-30cm tall, flowers March-April.


Fruit: Fruit an achene, beakless, pubescent, 3-4mm long


Life History

Lesser celandine is a perennial spring ephemeral species. Its leaves and flowers emerge in March-April, and the aboveground portion of the plant dies back May-June. At this point the plant cannot be detected. There are five recognized subspecies of F. verna, all of which are present in the United States. It has not been established which subspecies has been found in the Smokies, but it does have bulbils present in the leaf bases, giving it increased dispersal ability. F. verna is a low-growing species that can form a dense mat on the forest floor.




Lesser Celandine prefers shady moist woodlands and meadows. It is tolerant of different soil types as long as there is moisture, but seems to prefer sandy soils. Collections of Lesser Celandine have also been made in dry woodlands.


Origin and Distribution


Lesser celandine is native to Eurasia, North Africa and the Middle East. It was introduced to the US as an ornamental plant and first identified in Philadelphia in 1867. It has been identified in 27 states including North Carolina and Tennessee and has been reported invasive in 17 of these states including Tennessee.



Great Smoky Mountains National Park Integrated Pest Management Plan for Lesser celandine (Updated on 10-8-2014).


An excellent article on Ficaria verna can be found in Wildland Weeds.


Citizen scientists map invasive plants in

University of Tennessee students identify invasive bush honeysuckle and wintercreeper in River Bluff Park in Knoxville's Urban Wilderness.

Knoxville's Urban Wilderness

By Emily Zefferman


Knoxville's Urban Wilderness is a recreational, historical, and cultural asset to eastern Tennessee. Outdoor enthusiasts hike, bike, swim, fish, paddle, and climb in multiple parks that comprise approximately 1000 acres of forested land along the southern edge of the Tennessee River. While enjoying scenic vistas, unique geologic features, sparkling waters, and historical landmarks like former mining sites and Civil War-era forts and battlefields, visitors to the Urban Wilderness may notice a growing threat to the area's native habitats: a massive infestation of invasive plant species. Among the worst are privet (Ligustrum spp.), bush and Japanese honeysuckles (Lonicera spp.), English ivy (Hedera helix), multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora), and wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei), which cover much of the understory.


While the existence of this infestation is well-recognized among local land managers, there has yet to be a comprehensive and detailed assessment of its extent. Nor has there been a unified attempt to catalog the native species and communities that may be at risk due to invasive plant encroachment. To address this deficiency, several organizations are coming together to begin a citizen science-based Ecological Inventory of the Urban Wilderness. Partners include the University of Tennessee Knoxville, Discover Life in America, The City of Knoxville, Legacy Parks Foundation, and TNEPPC. This spring, volunteer groups of local experts and UT students are mapping invasive plant distributions throughout the Urban Wilderness. "BioBlitzes" to characterize native species distributions are also planned for late spring and summer. The data gathered will be used to prioritize invasive plant removal and restoration within the Urban Wilderness. These events also educate students and local community members about invasive plant identification and impacts.

This project is ongoing and its success is dependent on volunteer participation. If you would like to take part, please contact Emily Zefferman at

Weed Wrangle Nashville a huge success


By Steven Manning


In an effort to find new and innovative ways to educate homeowners on the dangers of invasive species, the Garden Club of Nashville (a member of the Garden Club of America) and Invasive Plant Control, Inc. held the first annual Weed Wrangle during Invasive Species Awareness Week in late February 2015. Inspired by national and international efforts now underway, Weed Wrangle represents a fresh new push to stem the tide of biological pollution using a consistent and organized approach on a nationwide scale.  Organizers seek to raise awareness of the "green scourge" before more of our native plants lose the fight for the light and nutrients they require to survive. With a wide array of partners and upwards of 1,000 participants in all the events during the week, the experience was a huge success and set the tone for years to come. With the help of the TN-EPPC, six new cities including Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville and Memphis have committed to hosting their own Weed Wrangle's in 2016 with many others certain to join in as the year progresses. One product of the Weed Wrangle 2015 will be an online cookbook for organizing your own local Weed Wrangle due to be completed sometime in the summer of 2015.   One of the objectives of the Weed Wrangle is to expand education about invasives from the land managers familiar with the topic of invasives and bring it directly to the homeowners who don't consider the ramifications of invasive species every day.


To accomplish this, ten public parks and other public-accessible spaces across Nashville participated in this year's event, including Bells Bend municipal park; Nashville Zoo at Grassmere; Owl's Hill Nature Sanctuary; Radnor Lake State Natural Area; Shelby Bottoms Greenways and Nature Park; and Cheekwood Botanical Gardens. The other targeted areas are under the oversight of Cumberland River Compact; Friends of Warner Parks; Greenways for Nashville; Lipscomb Academy and the Richland Creek Watershed Association.  

Events during the week included an evening talk at Belmont University, a cooperative social event at the Hill Forest with the TN-EPPC, a nationally hosted webinar, and collaboration with TN-EPPC to participate in their annual meeting at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens all culminating in the Weed Wrangle weed pull hosted at the aforementioned greenspaces surrounding Nashville.   Close to 600 participants signed up for the weed pull on Saturday morning representing all age groups and interests.

Funding for Weed Wrangle Nashville was provided by The Garden Club of America and by The Garden Club of Nashville, whose mission is to promote interest in gardens, their design, culture and management and to cooperate in the protection of wild flowers, native plants, trees and birds. Highlights from each site can be found at or by clicking on NISAW events at

Volunteers brave the cold to remove non-native invasive plants in Nashville



Knoxville Urban Wilderness invasive plant mapping

Volunteers needed for the following dates: April 10, 11, 12, 18 and 19 (all single shifts from 12pm - 4pm). Please contact Dr. Emily Zefferman at 865-974-8648 (


Walks to highlight Oak Ridge Reservation's rich fauna and flora

April 12 - Wildflower ad old-growth forest walk

April 25 - Bird nature walk

May 16 - Invasive plant identification and treatment

June 7 - Reptiles and amphibians inventory

Contact: Trent Jett at 865-574-9188 ( for more information and Tracy Clem 865-574-5151 ( to make reservations.


Big South Fork raft trip with trash collection

April 11


Garlic mustard pull/Wildflower walk

April 11


Wildflower tour of southern Decatur County

April 12


TWRA officer for Oak Ridge Reservation (Jim Evans) to speak

April 30 - Oak Ridge Civic Center (7PM); free and open to the public


Potters Falls cleanup and Save the hemlocks day

May 2


Outing with Tennessee Native Plant Society at Little Cedar Mountain

May 9 - For more information contact Larry Pounds at 865-705-8516 (


20 native plants to replace exotics in your landscape

May 11 - Chattanooga (free and open to the public)


Obed river cleanup and volunteer appreciation day

May 16 - For more information contact Veronica Greear at 423-346-6294


Twin Arches State Natural Area

May 16 - Roger McCoy will discuss plant species and communities


Arnold AFB (AEDC) and May Prairie

June 6 - Joint hike with the Georgia Botanical Society and the Tennessee Native Plant Society


Designing landscapes with native plants

June 6 - Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center, Chattanooga


Sunset hike to Tennessee coneflowers

June 20 - Todd Crabtree will lead a hike at Cedar Glade State Natural Area


Roan Mountain trip in memory of Ed Schell

June 27


Oak Ridge Barren workday/hike

August 15 - Contact Jimmy Groton at 865-805-9908


National Public Lands Day at the Worthington Cemetery

September 26 - Contact Jimmy Groton at 865-805-9908 


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.
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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!