Honeysuckle invading native growth at Fort Harrison
The nonnative (exotic) plant species present in the park have been introduced to this region both accidentally and intentionally for ornamental or agricultural purposes. Invasive exotics pose a constant threat to the park's native species because they are quick to establish and can rapidly out compete their indigenous counterparts. Characteristics of many invasive species include higher seed production and germination rates, vegetative reproduction, and a lack of natural competitors. These characteristics give invasives an advantage over natives, allowing them to monopolize available resources.
Species such as Japanese honeysuckle, tree of heaven, and oriental bittersweet threaten to diminish valuable native habitat in the park if not controlled. In order to protect and promote its native communities, Richmond National Battlefield Park has an established invasive species monitoring and control program and is working in cooperation with the regional NPS Exotic Plant Management Team.
The prolific nature of these plants makes their management extremely difficult. At this time eradication can not be a realistic goal because of the proximity to readily available seed sources outside of park lands. Suppression of exotic species and the promotion of native alternatives, along with careful management of disturbed sites, will help ensure that invasive species populations remain in check.