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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Sunday - June 17, 2012

From: Islesboro, ME
Region: Northeast
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Shrubs
Title: Non-native invasive Siebold viburnum from Isleboro ME
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I was given several small Siebold Viburnum for planting on my Maine property. Even though it is often for sale in nurseries, I'm aware it is listed as invasive in several eastern states. Shouldn't I decline the gift and avoid planting these plants as possibly invasive in Maine as well?

ANSWER:

Since this plant is native to Japan, it is out of our area of expertise. However, for our own information as well as yours, we searched on "Siebold Viburnum invasive" and got an eyeful. Apparently, the biggest problem is that the berries of this shrub are very attractive to birds. The birds feed on them, go somewhere else, and deposit the seeds. The shrub grows quickly, and in an wild area can be up and taking over before anyone notices it. We read one comment that we thought was very telling. It had to do with the fact that you cannot defend all plants in all spaces from invaders, but you can take care of the area you are responsible for. It is hardy in USDA Zones 4 to 7, so we have no experience with it in Texas, but we don't like viburnums that do get established here.

We really can't tell you what to do, this is a decision  landowners must make for themselves. The seeds of the plant you put in the ground may not produce invasive stands in your lifetime, but eventually they will. You make the choice - free, bird-attracting shrubs or a possilble environmental problem down the road.

 

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