Tennessee Exotic Pest Plant Council

January 4, 2016
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, 
TN-EPPC President
Letter from the President

Autumn and early winter in Tennessee has been beautiful, and plants are going dormant for the winter. But the unusually warm weather for the past couple of months has allowed many invasive plants to extend their growing seasons longer than usual. There is still plenty that can be done at this time of year to control many species of invasive plants. The TN-EPPC website has information on methods such as basal treatment and cut stump treatments using herbicides. Some evergreen invasive plants can be treated effectively now that many of the natives have died back. English ivy and winter creeper are more exposed and still susceptible to foliar sprays. For these methods to be effective, follow herbicide label directions for concentration and temperature. Mechanical methods can also be used.
We welcome new TN-EPPC Board members Christine Bertz (Memphis), Shawn Bible (TDOT), Adam Datillo (TVA), and Jimmy Groton (TCWP). These folks bring lots of experience and expertise to TN-EPPC, and we are looking forward to their involvement.
Speaking of invasive plant control, dates in winter/spring of 2016 have been chosen for Weed Wrangles in Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville. These will be organized by local members of The Garden Club of America and Invasive Plant Control. We highlight the Weed Wrangle scheduled for Knoxville below. Please plan to participate in an area near you and see what a difference removing invasive plants can make.
News and Resources

A July 15 study found that adding nutrients to ecosystems makes exotic plant species thrive and can cause native species to decrease in abundance and diversity. The study's authors suggest the worldwide trend in nutrient enrichment could lead to an increase in exotic plant dominance in grasslands.
Goats are returning this summer to clear brush and invasive plants from the Williams Creek Urban Forest in East Knoxville on Wednesday. The site is near the intersection of Brooks and Daily streets. The Tennessee Clean Water Network is working with Whistlepig Farms and the city of Knoxville to restore the Williams Creek Urban Forest and the surrounding properties.
"Exotic" sounds so fancy, right? But when it comes to plants, exotic is not always a good thing. Some exotic plants can spread like crazy, harbor insects and disease and threaten our local eco-system. Here are three plants - either from neighboring states or other countries - to avoid planting in our area.
After 18 months of secret diplomatic talks, the White House dropped a bombshell in December: relations with Cuba would start to be normalized...But some critics, including Florida Gov. Rick Scott, worry that if restrictions are dropped completely, it won't just be goods and tourists traveling between Cuba and the United States.
Volunteers recently planted 10,000 red mangroves along North Spreader Canal in Lee County. Biologists are concerned the canal's bank is eroding. That's because the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has been removing nonnative plant species from the land.
The U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station publication A Field Guide for the Identification of Invasive Plants in Southern Forests provides a comprehensive identification guide to nonnative trees, shrubs, vines, grasses, ferns and forbs currently invading forests and other natural areas of the southeastern United States.
Chinese Parasol Tree (Firmiana simplex) has been confirmed in Knox County, Tennessee by the Tennessee Department of Natural Heritage. Please be on the look out for this invasive plant and report any findings through EDDMapS  and TNEPPC (See link below). A description of the species from Louisiana can be found here:
Featured Non-native Invasive Plant

Winter Creeper
Euonymus fortunei (Turcz.) Hand.-Mazz.

Winter creeper is an evergreen climbing woody vine that forms a very dense ground cover, an unfortunate trait common in invasive species. It was first introduced from China as an ornamental in the early 1900's. Traits that made the winter creeper a desirable landscaping plant then are the same traits that make it such a threat today.


Winter Creeper is an evergreen woody vine climbing to 40 to 70 feet (12 to 22 m) and clinging by aerial roots or rooting at nodes, or standing as a shrub to 3 feet (1 m) in height.


The twigs are stout, lime green, and hairless, becoming increasingly dusted and streaked with light-gray to reddish corky bark. Patches or lines of protruding aerial roots underneath or along surfaces are used for attachment. Branching is opposite. The leaf scars are thin upturned white crescents, and branch scars jut outward and contain a light semicircle. Older stems are covered with gray corky bark becoming fissured and then checked.


Leaves are opposite, broadly oval, moderately thick, with bases tapering to petiole and measure 1 to 2.5 inches (2.5 to 6 cm) long and 1 to 1.8 inches (2.5 to 4.5 cm) wide. Leaf margins are finely crenate, somewhat turned under, to wavy, and the blades are smooth, glossy, hairless, dark green with whitish mid- and lateral veins (or variegated green white above and light green beneath). Petioles are 0.15 to 0.4 inch (0.4 to 1 cm) long.


Axillary clusters of small greenish-yellow inconspicuous flowers appear May to July at the ends of Y-shaped stems. Each flower is 0.1 inch (2 to 3 mm) wide with five petals. Pistils soon elongate with fruit.

Fruit and seeds

Dangling paired or single pinkish-to-red capsules, 0.2 to 0.4 inch (5 to 10 mm) long, split open to reveal a fleshy orange-to-red covered seed in September to November.

Life History

Ecology and Habitat

Winter Creeper forms a dense ground cover and can climb trees eventually overtopping them. It is shade tolerant, occurring under dense stands but avoiding wet areas. It can colonize by trailing and climbing vines that root at nodes, and it is spread by bird-, other animal-, and water-dispersed seeds. Winter Creeper is in the Celastraceae of Staff-Tree family.

Origin and Distribution

Winter Creeper was introduced from Asia in 1907. It has been widely use as an ornamental groundcover. Other states where invasive: AL, CT, DC, GA, IN, KY, MD, MO, OH, VA, WI.
Source: Information on this plant page is derived primarily from James H. Miller's Nonnative Invasive Plants of Southern Forests, USDA Forest Service.

More information can be found on our web-site:
First Annual Weed Wrangle Knoxville Planned
By Nancy J. Montgomery, Knoxville Garden Club

Green is not always good. Tennessee landscapes are encountering growing threats from some non-native plants. Invasive plants introduced in this region decades ago for agricultural or landscaping purposes are now a serious concern for our parks, our public green spaces, our own backyards. More and more, experts warn, this city's beautiful native trees, plants and wildlife are losing the fight against these aggressive plants, vines, trees and insects that consume nutrients, disrupt the ecological balance and disfigure the outdoor world where Knoxvillians hike, bike, picnic, ride horses and mountain bikes, or just relax. Some invasive plants are quite beautiful with colorful flowers and pleasing scents. But make no mistake: They are quietly lethal. If left unchecked, future generations might never glimpse the forest floor, as alien undergrowth shrouds and chokes trees large and small.
Inspired by national and international efforts now underway, Weed Wrangles across the state and Weed Wrangle Knoxville represent a fresh new push to stem the tide of biological pollution in our area. The goal is two-fold: restoration and preservation. 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. The Knoxville Garden Club, a member of The Garden Club of America, and other planners are working hard to pull in other local groups to establish a corps of organized resistance to this blight on our environment. The Legacy Parks Foundation, Ijams Nature Center, Knoxville Botanical Gardens and Arboretum, Lakeshore Park, the Tennessee Exotic Pest Plant Council and the City of Knoxville are just a few of the partners now backing Weed Wrangle Knoxville.
First of all, please consider participating in the first-ever Weed Wrangle Knoxville event, set for Saturday, March 5, 2016 from 9 a.m. to noon in at least four locations in Knoxville. These include Ijams Nature Park; The Knoxville Botanical Gardens and Arboretum; Lakeshore Park and the Urban Wilderness. For more information, please visit or email . You can also make a difference by removing any invasive plants that appear on your property; this prevents their inevitable spread to other yards and public spaces. Always try to landscape with native plants and avoid the purchase of potentially invasive species sold by some nurseries. A number of the traits that make plants highly desirable ornamentals also make them ideal weeds. Finally, help us spread the word about the broadening fight against invasive plants. Knowledge, after all, is power.
Early Detection and Distribution Mapping System
By Justin Coffey, TN-EPPC Board member
EDDMapS is a web-based mapping system for documenting invasive species presence and distribution across the United States and Canada. It is fast, easy to use and doesn't require Geographic Information Systems (GIS) experience. A simple, interactive website or mobile (smartphone) application allows participants to submit their observations or view results through interactive queries into the EDDMapS database. Users simply enter information from their observations into the standardized electronic data form, which allows specific information about the infestation and images to be added. Data entered through the website or mobile application is immediately loaded to the database, allowing real time tracking of species.

EDDMapS combines data from volunteer observations and other organizations as well as databases to create a national network of invasive species distribution data that is shared with educators, land managers, conservation biologists, and beyond. This data will become the foundation for a better understanding of invasive species distribution around the world. Furthermore, being able to see the current data of a species as it moves into a new area helps to facilitate Early Detection and Rapid Response programs (EDRR). EDRR programs help stop or control an invasive species before it becomes an unmanageable problem.

EDDMapS goal is to maximize the effectiveness and accessibility of the immense numbers of invasive species observations recorded each year. All records are reviewed by state verifiers to ensure all data are accurate. The data are made freely available to scientists, researchers, land managers, land owners, educators, conservationists, ecologists, farmers, foresters, state and national parks. As of December 2015, EDDMapS has processed over 2.7 million records.

EDDMapS in Tennessee could use your help. The members of TN-EPPC would like to challenge each subscriber of this newsletter to document invasive species through EDDMapS and help spread the word about this valuable reporting tool. Your support will greatly help Tennessee land managers and landowners address invasive plant infestations while protecting native plant ecosystems. - website for online registration and reporting - website for links to mobile applications for registration and reporting
Kudzu: "if you can't beat it", make jelly out of it!

By Heather Howell, Simply Happy Canning Company

Many people don't know you can actually use the beautiful, fragrant purple blossoms from kudzu for something useful. They can be picked July through September and you can tell the flowers are in bloom from the grape like smell in the air.
It is easiest to cut the flowering ends off with a pair of scissors. Be careful to stay away from plants that have been sprayed with any type of chemicals.

Kudzu Blossom Jelly
4 c. Kudzu blossoms
4 c. boiling water
2 T. lemon juice
8 T. pectin
5 c. sugar
Wash blossoms thoroughly & flush with cold salt water to remove the bugs. Place blossoms in large bowl and pour 4 c. boiling water over them. Stir and set in refrigerator overnight to steep. The resulting infusion will be an unattractive gray/brown color.

Strain the liquid through a coffee filter & discard the blooms. Pour liquid in a large pot. Add lemon juice & amazingly the infusion will turn a beautiful burgundy or pink.. Bring the infusion to a full rolling boil, add pectin & return to boiling for 1 minute. Add the sugar all at once & continue stirring constantly until the mixture has returned to a full boil that can not be stirred down. Boil for 1-2 minutes.

Remove from heat and skim off foam. Pour jelly into hot sterilized jars and seal. Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Store in a cool, dark place.
Heather Howell
Simply Happy Canning Company

January 15, 2016: Whites Creek Trail Clean-up. Contact Jimmy Groton, 865-483-5799, email:

February 20, 2016: Alley Ford Cumberland Trail Workday. Contact Jimmy Groton, 865-483-5799, email:

February 21 - 17, 2016: National Invasive Species Awareness Week. PARTICIPATE IN EVENTS ACROSS THE NATION to raise awareness and identify solutions to invasive species issues at local, state, tribal, regional, international and national scales. Locate an invasive species event in your state or county. Plan your own event using the NISAW Toolkit - where and when it works for you!

March 5, 2016: Weed Wrangle Knoxville. From 9AM - 12PM at the following locations: Ijams Nature Park, the Knoxville Botanical Gardens and Arboretum, Lakeshore Park and the Urban Wilderness. For more information, email or visit our web-site.

March 5, 2016: Oak Ridge Cedar Barren Weed Wrangle. Contact Jimmy Groton, 865-483-5799, email:

March 5, 2016: Plant Natives 2016! Annual Native Plant Symposium (UTC University Center Auditorium), Chattanooga


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!