May 03, 2017

The 5 Most Invasive Tree Species in the Atlanta Area

When planning your landscaping, there’s more than aesthetics to consider. While having a beautiful, inviting yard is the ultimate desire – beauty is only one factor. Invasive species can be deceiving, they may produce fragrant blossoms in the springtime, attract song birds and provide shade from the hot summer sun. Sadly, many invasive trees are often advertised and sold by nurseries because of their rapid growth and attractive features. However, if planted or left to grow, they can wreak havoc on Atlanta’s natural ecosystem, and make it difficult for home owners and gardeners to have success with other tree and plant varieties. At 404-CUT-TREE we help Atlanta area home and business owners create beautiful landscaping. Over the years, we’ve learned a lot about local invasive tree species, yet these 5 are the most prevalent and invasive in the Atlanta area.

Japanese and Chinese Privet

In the United States, privet has few native competitors that can match its rapid growth and reproduction cycles. Privet adapts well to varying lighting conditions, and can easily find a light source, often at the expense of surrounding plants. Both varieties of Privet can reproduce sexually and asexually, through seed disbursement and root suckers. Because of this, it can be very difficult to successfully remove privet entirely, as any root left beneath the ground has the potential to form into a mature plant.


Once cultivated as a landscape plant because of its exotic pink fan like flowers, Mimosa has become an invasive species in Atlanta and around the world. The flowers release seed pods that are easily spread by water and animals, and have been known to grow extensively near sources of fresh water. They can grow quite large, reaching heights of twenty feet tall or more and can adapt to many different soil conditions and environments. This allows Mimosa to grow quickly and out compete other natural varieties of trees and shrubs. For this reason, growing Mimosa as a landscape plant isn’t suggested, and Sweet Acacia is often recommended as a non-invasive alternative.


Paulownia, also known as the Empress tree, is another variety that is often sold and touted as a fast-growing ornamental. While Paulownia does provide nice shade, and beautiful purple and pink flowers, it is an extremely invasive species that is disrupting Atlanta’s natural ecosystem. Their pretty flowers produce millions of seeds annually, and can grow up to 15 feet in one year. This makes it difficult for neighboring trees to compete for sunlight and space.  Additionally both Paulownia and Mimosa are structurally very weak and prone to breakage.

Camphor Tree

The Camphor Tree is native to China and Japan and has been widely cultivated worldwide for spice and incense production. It was introduced to the southern United States in the late 19th century by plantation owners who wanted to cash in on the manufacturing of camphor.  However, it’s berries attract birds, which cause the tree to quickly proliferate, at the detriment of native tree species.

White Poplar

White Poplar is native to Europe and is identified by its smooth white bark with diamond shaped spots on the trunk. While seed germination isn’t an issue, the root suckers of the Poplar tree are fast forming. They can quickly develop an entire colony of saplings, which makes it difficult for any other tree species to grow near them.

Is Your Yard Getting Overrun by Invasive Tree’s? Call the Experts at 404-CUT-TREE

Removal of these invasive trees can be complicated and difficult. It can be almost impossible for a homeowner to create their ideal landscape if these trees are present, because many of the trees, shrubs and plants that you wish to introduce may fail to thrive. It can be frustrating for a well-meaning homeowner to plan and purchase new trees for their property only to discover that their investments are being subverted by nearby invasive species. Thankfully, the experienced arborists at 404-CUT-TREE are well educated and experienced in removing invasive trees so you can have the yard you’ve always dreamed of. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with a tree care specialist near you.