Alternatives To Common Invasives

Alternatives to Commonly Planted Invasive Plants

Invasive Species

Non-Invasive Alternatives
* native to Vermont

Japanese Barberry
Berberis thunbergii

Japanese Barberry is an ornamental shrub that that is attractive because of its colors and dark red berries.  It also comes in various heights and can be used is as be shaped into hedges. 

  • Black Chokeberry*

  • Common Winterberry*

  • Highbush Blueberry*

  • Inkberry*

  • Meadowsweet*

  • Northern Bayberry

  • Sliky Dogwood*

  • Smokebush

  • Sweetfern*

  • Sweet Pepperbush

Bush Honeysuckles
Lonicera morrowil,
Lonicera maackii,
Lonicera x bella
Lonicera tatarica

Bush Honeysuckles have been planted mostly for their ornamental value, including the fragrant flowers and red berries.

  • Beach plum

  • Black Chokeberry*

  • Black Elderberry*

  • Buttonbush*

  • Common Winterberry*

  • Silky dogwood*

  • Spicebush*   

  •  Trumpet honeysuckle

Burning Bush
Euonymus alatus

Burning Bush is used as an ornamental shrub, and is valued for its neat habit and spectacular red to pink fall color.  It is shade tolerant.

  • Arrowwood*

  • Black Chokeberry*

  • Button bush*

  • Fragrant Sumac*

  • Highbush Blueberry*

  • Nannyberry*

  • Northern Bayberry

  • Shining Sumac  

  • Smokebush

  • Smooth Sumac*

Norway Maple
Acer platanoides

Norway Maple is an ornamental tree. Some cultivars have a maroon leaf color which it keeps throughout the growing season.

  • Blackgum*

  • Red maple*

  • Sugar maple*


Rhamnus cathartica

Buckthorn is a shrub/small tree that is valued for its hardiness and its ability to grow in a variety of soil and light conditions.  It has been used in many areas to create hedges.

  • American Bladdernut*

  • Beach plum*

  • Black Chokeberry*

  • Buttonbush*

  • Serviceberry*

  • Silky Dogwood*

  • Speckled Alder*

  • Witchhazel*

Bishop’s Goutweed
Aegopodium podagraria

Bishop’s Goutweed is used as an ornamental ground cover, especially on steep slopes.  If flourishes in moist, shaded areas.

  • Canadian Anemone*

  • Canadian Wild Ginger*

  • Wild Blue Phlox or Sweet William

  • Wild Sarsaparilla*






































Characteristics of Select Alternatives

Beach plum 
Prunus maritima

Multi-branched shrub, 1 – 8 ft tall. Egg shaped, finely toothed leaves. White fruit in umbels along the stem. Fruit purple.  Salt Tolerant.

Fruit eaten by birds and wildlife.

Light: Full Sun
Moisture: Dry
Soil: Sandy

Black Elderberry
Sambucus canadensis

A deciduous shrub with branches to 12 ft.  Leaves up to 12 inches long.  Flowers white in conspicuous clusters appearing from May to July. Fruit berrylike, dark purple when ripe, edible when ripe. Berries relished by many bird species and mammals. Deer eat twigs and leaves. Attracts birds and is a nectar source.

Light: Part Shade
Moisture: Wet
Soil: Tolerates a wide variety of wet to dry soils but prefers rich, moist, slightly acid soil.

Black Chokeberry
Aronia melanocarpa

A small, mound-shaped shrub. Glossy, dark green foliage turns crimson-red in fall.  White flowers with pink anthers.  Persistent, blackish-purple berries.

Provides nectar to insects, fruit provides food for birds and mammals.

Light: Part Shade, Full Sun
Moisture: Moist , Dry
Soil: Sandy, acid

Nyssa sylvatica

A handsome ornamental and shade tree which has glossy, dark-green summer foliage changing to fluorescent yellow, orange, scarlet and purple in fall.  Grows to 30-60 ft. or taller.  Berries are small and blue. It is also a honey plant. The juicy fruit is consumed by many birds and mammals. Used by substrate-insectivorous birds, Fruit-birds, Fruit-mammals, Nectar-bees.  Attracts birds.

Light: Sun, Part Shade, Shade
Moisture: Moist
Soil: Various acid soils. Acid-based, Gravelly, Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay

Cephalanthus occidentalis

Shrub, 3-10 ft, with flowers in round, ball-like heads. White , tubular flowers. Egg shaped leaves opposite or whorled.

Provides food for variety of wildlife.

Light: Shade, Part Shade, Full Sun
Moisture: Moist, Wet
Soil: All kinds

Common Winterberry
Ilex verticillata

A very “showy” shrub, especially in fall & early winter with its bright red berries. Provides cover, nesting site, nectar for insects and fruit for birds.  Attracts birds & butterflies.

NOTE:  Need both male and female plants to have berries.

Light: Sun, Part Shade, Shade
Moisture: Wet, Moist, Dry
Soil: Moist, acidic soils. Sandy, Sandy Loam Medium Loam Clay Loam, Clay

Fragrant Sumac
Rhus aromatica

A sprawling, small to medium-size shrub (6-12 ft. tall) with aromatic foliage.  Has glossy, somewhat blue-green leaves which turn orange, red, purple and yellow in the fall. Yellowish catkin-like flowers precede dark-red berries which persist into March.   The berries provide winter food for small animals and birds.  Attracts birds & butterflies. Is highly deer resistant.

Light: Sun, Part Shade, Shade
Moisture: Moist, Dry
Soil: Dry, rocky soils. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam Clay

Highbush Blueberry
Vaccinium corymbosum

A deciduous shrub with reddish-green spring leaves which turn blue-green in summer and red, yellow, orange and purple in fall. White or pink, bell-shaped flowers in drooping clusters.  Blue fruit. Berries are relished by most birds and mammals. Browsers eat foliage. Attracts 30 species of birds.

Light: Sun, Part Shade, Shade
Moisture: Wet, Moist, Dry
Soil: Wet to dry, acid, rocky soils to organic peats

Northern Bayberry
Morella pensylvanica

A spreading shrub, 3-12 ft. tall. Glossy, fragrant gray-green, turn tan-colored and persist into winter. Green catkins appear before leaves. Clusters of small, round, hard, white berries remain on the female plant all winter. Berries eaten by winter birds.  Attracts birds & butterflies.

Light: Part Shade
Moisture: Moist
Soil: Clay, Loam, Sand

Red maple
Acer rubrum

A shade tree, displaying red in different seasons. This is a preferred species for browsing deer and moose.  Attracts Birds and is  larval host and/or nectar source for Rosy Maple Moth.

Light: Sun, Part Shade
Moisture: Moist
Soil: Clay, Loamy, Sandy, slightly acidic soils.


Shrub or small tree with early white spring flowers in loose racemes at the end of branches. In the rose family.

Light: Sun, Part Shade
Moisture: Dry, Moist
Soil: Loamy, Sandy

Shining Sumac
Rhus copallinum

A large, deciduous ornamental shrub or small tree, 20-35 ft. tall. Glossy, dark-green leaves turn reddish-purple in the fall. Yellowish-green flowers are succeeded by drooping fruit clusters which turn dull red and persist through winter.  Often forms thickets. Winter food for many upland game birds, songbirds, and large and small mammals. Wildlife eat the fruit, and deer also browse the twigs.

Light: Sun
Moisture: Dry
Soil: Rocky, poor soils

Smooth Sumac
Rhus glabra

An ornamental, 10-20 ft. shrub with short, crooked, picturesque branches.  Deciduous leaves become extremely colorful in early fall. On female plants, yellow-green flowers are followed by bright-red, hairy berries which persist throughout winter. Berries consumed by birds of many kinds and small mammals, mainly in winter. Deer browse the twigs and fruit throughout the year.  Attracts birds & butterflies.

Light: Sun, Part Shade, Shade
Moisture:  Dry
Soil: Most dry soils. Sandy, Sandy Loam Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Caliche type

Lindera benzoin

A single- or few-stemmed, deciduous shrub, 6-12 ft. tall.  Dense clusters of tiny, pale yellow flowers which are followed by glossy red fruit. Both fruit and foliage are aromatic. Leaves turn a colorful golden-yellow in fall.  Attracts Birds & Butterflies.  Larval host for Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Spicebush Swallowtail.

Light: Sun, Part Shade, Shade
Moisture:  Wet , Moist , Dry
Soil:  Moist, sandy, well-drained soils. Caliche type, Limestone-based, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam

Sugar maple
Acer saccharum

Large (60-75 ft.) shade tree with rounded, dense crown and striking, brilliant red, yellow and orange fall foliage.  Its straight, central trunk; wide-spreading branches; and pointed crown are all attractive landscape characteristics. Attracts birds.

It is susceptible to salt. (Dirt)

Light: Sun, Part Shade, Shade
Moisture:  Moist , Dry
Soil: Rich, moist, well-drained soils

Sweet Pepperbush
Clethra alnifolia

1 – 4 foot shrub with sweet-scented white flowers in long racemes. Egg shaped leaves, sharply toothed above the middle. Attracts pollinators.

Light: Part Shade, Full Shade
Moisture: Moist, Wet
Soil: Clay, Loamy, Sandy

Trumpet honeysuckle
Lonicera sempervirens

High-climbing, twining vine, 3-20 ft. long, with smooth, glossy, semi-evergreen leaves and 2-4 flowered clusters of red, tubular blooms followed by bright-red berries. Not too aggressive. Good climber or ground cover. Flowers attract hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies. Fruits attract quail, Purple Finch, Goldfinch, Hermit Thrush, American Robin.  Nectar source.   Larval host for Spring Azure, Snowberry Clearwing Moth.

Light: Sun, Part Shade
Moisture:  Dry, Moist
Soil: Various soils, but rich preferred

Hamamelis virginiana

Shrub, 5-15 ft., with yellow flowers that bloom in late fall. Leaves are long (2-5”) and egg shaped with wavy edges.

Provides food for birds and small mammals.

Light: Part Shade, Shade
Moisture: Dry, Moist
Soil: Clay, Loamy, Sandy


For more information about invasives and alternatives, go to or, or call (802) 229-4425.

For a printable PDF of these charts, click here.