Synonyms: Invasive, Exotic, Nonnative, Non-Native
An exotic species is a non-native plant species.
An invasive plant is an exotic species has the ability to thrive and spread aggressively outside its natural range. An invasive species that colonizes a new area may grow more rapidly than native plants since the insects, diseases, and foraging animals that naturally keep its growth in check are not present.
Many invasive species are introduced through residential landscaping without a full understanding of how the exotic species will interact with the environment. Although some exotic species are more aesthetically interesting than their native counterparts, if they become invasive they can become real problems for local habitats. Invasive species are problematic because they can out-compete natives and significantly reduce biodiversity in ecosystems. Decreasing biodiversity has a chain reaction of negative affects on other plant species, insects, and animals that are critical for thriving ecosystems.
Learn more about invasive species in the Chesapeake Bay by visiting the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Invasive Species Website.