Preferred Scientific Name
- Hedges and windbreaks (pathway cause)
International Common Names
- English: Hedge; Hedgerow; Hedging; Shelter belts; Shelterbelts; Wind breaks
- French: Haies/brise-vents
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Most of the incidences of the introduction of plants primarily for hedge/windbreak purposes, and which later became invasive, occurred in the 1800s, before any risks were associated with these species. Characteristics of good hedge plants, the presence of spines or thorns, a dense multi-stemmed shrubby habit, and unpalatability or tolerance to browsing, are also shared by invasive species. The risks associated with international introduction of potentially invasive plants have been well highlighted in recent decades, though seed of many of these is still available from mail-order and internet-based companies. The main risks, however, are likely to concentrate on local spread, as farmers continue to plant live fences from plants already in the area.
Summary of organism types or species introduced
In the Forestry Compendium (CABI, 2005), there are 524 tree species recorded as being used for either hedges, windbreaks or shelterbelts, and of these, 94 were either invasive, aggressive, or noted to have a tendency to become a weed. However, many of the characteristics of good windbreak trees (fast growth, tall, narrow crown, wind-firm, etc.) make them good plantation species, so it is rare that a species would have been introduced principally as a windbreak tree. For example, Casuarina spp. are commonly planted as windbreaks in the tropics as are Cupressus spp. in Mediterranean regions, but they are also frequently used as forestry and ornamental species. Hedge plants, however, generally have unique characteristics uncommon in forestry, such as having spines or thorns and a dense, low-growing form, and resistance or tolerance to browsing.
Of the 463 invasive plants in the Crop Protection Compendium (CABI, 2007), the following 23 species (almost 5% of the total) are (or have been) used for hedging or as a hedge plant: Acacia karroo, Caesalpinia decapetala, Casuarina glauca, Dichrostachys cinerea, Genista monspessulana, Gliricidia sepium, Hakea drupacea, H. gibbosa, H. sericea, Jatropha curcas, Lantana camara, Ligustrum robustrum, Lycium ferocissimum, Opuntia stricta, Parkinsonia aculeata, Pithecellobium dulce, Psidium cattleianum, Rhamnus cathartica, R. frangula, Rubus fruticosus, Tamarix aphylla, T. chinensis and Ulex europaeus. Most are multi-purpose species, but providing a stock-proof or ornamental hedging is recorded as the main reason for long-distance introduction of just over half of these; highlighted below.
Caesalpinia decapetala was widely introduced to form a security barrier against people or wild animals, and is also regarded as a striking ornamental.
Dichrostachys cinerea has a number of environmental uses for example in agroforestry, soil improvement, revegetation, land reclamation, soil conservation and erosion control, and has been widely planted for hedging and live fencing.
Hakeadrupacea, H. gibbosa and H. sericea were introduced from Australia to South Africa primarily as a hedge or barrier plant, but also for sand stabilization and firewood production (Shaughnessy, 1986), and also to New Zealand for the same reasons.
Lantana camara has been introduced throughout the tropics and subtropics, often used as a hedge plant, and in East Africa, in locations where it is not weedy, it has been used effectively as a live fence (Howes, 1946).
Ligustrum robustrum was introduced as a hedge species in Mauritius in 1895 (Rouillard and Guého, 1990). It continues to be used as an ornamental species, and is commonly found as a hedge plant in La Réunion.
Lycium ferocissimum was widely introduced from South Africa to Australia as a hedge plant and had become naturalized by the mid 1800s (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992), and it was also introduced to New Zealand at the same time for the same reasons, and whereas it is no longer grown for this purpose, many of the non-coastal invasions have spread from old hedges.
Opuntia stricta has also been used as a hedge plant, and the showy flowers and attractive fruit also make it a popular pot and hedge plant and it is by this means that it probably arrived in Australia prior to 1839 (Mann, 1970).
Parkinsonia aculeata is widely used as a thorn hedge and as an ornamental, shade or shelterbelt tree (Howes, 1946; Troup and Joshi, 1983; Webb et al., 1984). It was promoted in Australia as an evergreen hedge (von Mueller, 1888) and by British colonialists as an ornamental, for soil fixation and as a hedging plant (Streets, 1962; Troup and Joshi, 1983). It continues to be used and promoted for ornament, shade, windbreak and hedging purposes (Madany, 1991).
Rhamnus cathartica and R. frangula have been used extensively as a hedgerow and ornamental plant. By the 1900s they had become naturalized and widespread in parts of North America where they were used as a hedge, shelterbelt or ornamental.
Ulex europaeus has been introduced intentionally to many temperate parts of the world as a hedge plant to contain grazing animals, as fodder, and even to assuage the nostalgia of European colonists (Richardson and Hill, 1998). It was intentionally introduced to New Zealand as a hedge plant, naturalized quickly, and was declared a noxious weed in 1900 (MacCarter and Gaynor, 1980). It was introduced to Australia for the same reasons before 1845, naturalized by 1889, and was a recognized weed by 1909 (Richardson and Hill, 1998).
In addition to these examples, two species are notable for their popular use a hedge plant, which is likely to be a common reason for their spread locally: Gliricidia sepium is mainly valued as a fodder and shade tree, but as cuttings root extremely easily (‘quick stick’ being one of its common names), it is often planted as a hedge. Also, Jatrophacurcas is mainly valued for the oil produced from its seeds, but being unpalatable and the wood being valueless, it is often grown as a hedge (‘hedge castor oil plant’ being one of its common names).
Species are introduced via seed, and only very rarely as plants or parts of plants (such as probably occurred with Opuntia spp., where the cladodes, or leaf pads, are the main means of propagation). Seed of very many invasive trees are still available from mail order companies and can be purchased via the internet.
Geographical routes and corridors
Shipping routes in the 1800s provided the main routes for introduction of hedging plants, between countries of similar climates, e.g. South Africa and Australia in both directions, from Europe to North America and New Zealand, and from Central America pan-tropically. In recent years, seeds of invasive ornamental hedging plants are sent by airmail and thus arrive at airports and not sea ports as before.
All introductions of trees and shrubs for use as hedges or windbreaks were intentional.
|Abutilon hirtum (Indian mallow)||Used for hedges.||Yes||Achigan-Dako, 2010|
|Acacia angustissima (prairie acacia)||For hedges in crop fields.||Yes||Akume et al., 2015|
|Acacia longifolia (golden wattle)||Used for hedges in Argentina and Australia.||Yes||Yes||Birnbaum et al., 2012|
|Acacia mearnsii (black wattle)||Yes||Yes||Wiersum, 1991|
|Acacia saligna (Port Jackson wattle)||Yes||Cronk and Fuller, 1995|
|Agave americana (century plant)||Planted to create natural hedges||Yes||Yes||PROTA, 2016|
|Agave vivipara (Caribbean agave)||Used as hedge plant because of its spiny leaves||Yes||Yes||The Mansfeld’s World Database, 2015|
|Albizia adinocephala (cream albizia)||Yes||Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, 2016|
|Allamanda blanchetii (purple allamanda)||Cultivated as a hedge plant||Yes||Yes||USDA-ARS, 2019|
|Allamanda cathartica (yellow allamanda)||Commonly used as ground cover and for hedges and screens||Yes||Yes||Francis, 2000|
|Anredera vesicaria (Texas madeira vine)||Grown on fences and hedges||Yes||Achigan-Dako, 2010; Achigan-Dako, 2010|
|Asparagus falcatus (sicklethorn)||Used as a safety hedge||Yes||PROTA, 2020|
|Austrocylindropuntia cylindrica (cane cactus)||Yes|
|Austrocylindropuntia subulata (Eve’s needle cactus)||Yes|
|Balanites aegyptiaca (simple-thorned torchwood)||Used for live fences in Africa||Yes||Booth and Wickens, 1988|
|Bambusa bambos (giant thorny bamboo)||Yes||Yes||Duriyaprapan and Jansen, 1995|
|Bambusa tuldoides (punting pole bamboo)||Used as hedge plant||Yes||Yes||But and Chia, 1995|
|Bambusa vulgaris (common bamboo)||Yes||Yes||Dransfield and Widjaja, 1995|
|Barleria cristata (Philippine violet)||Cultivated as hedge plant||Yes||India Biodiversity Portal, 2016|
|Barleria lupulina (hophead Philippine violet)||Cultivated as hedge plant||Yes||Yes||Smith, 1991|
|Bauhinia monandra (Napoleon's plume)||Used as hedge-plant||Yes||Yes||Connor, 2002|
|Bauhinia tomentosa (yellow bauhinia)||Planted as hedge plant in gardens and agricultural lands||Yes||Orwa et al., 2009|
|Bontia daphnoides (white alling)||Used in the Caribbean as windbreak||Yes||Yes||Chinnock et al., 1987|
|Bougainvillea spectabilis (great bougainvillea)||Often planted as hedge plant||Yes||Yes||Salam et al., 2017|
|Breynia disticha (snowbush)||Yes||Yes||Achigan-Dako, 2010|
|Bromelia pinguin (wild pineapple)||Used as a living fence in rural communities||Yes||Guess and Guess, 2001; UNDP, 2011|
|Brugmansia suaveolens (white angel's trumpet)||Yes|
|Caesalpinia pulcherrima (peacock flower)||Planted as a living fence||Yes||Yes||Achigan-Dako, 2010|
|Calliandra houstoniana var. calothyrsus (calliandra)||Used in hedgerows in Jamaica||Yes||Yes||McDonald et al., 2001|
|Candidatus Phytoplasma australiense||Yes||Yes|
|Cascabela thevetia (yellow oleander)||Used as a hedge plant||Yes||Yes||Useful Tropical Plants, 2020|
|Cassia grandis (pink shower)||Used in agricultural settings as live fence, re-vegetation pioneer, and for intercropping||Yes||Yes||ICRAF, 2014|
|Cestrum diurnum (day jessamine)||Planted in fencerows||Yes||Yes||Francis, 2002|
|Cestrum nocturnum (night jessamine)||Species is planted for use as a hedge plant||Yes||Yes||Hanelt et al., 2001|
|Chrysopogon zizanioides (vetiver)||Planted as a vegetative barrier||Yes||Yes||Joy, 2009|
|Cissus quadrangularis (treebine)||Used for live fences||Yes||Yes||Brink and Achigan-Dako, 2012|
|Citrus leprosis virus C (leprosis of citrus)||Yes|
|Cnidoscolus aconitifolius (chaya)||Used as living fence posts||Yes||Yes||Ross-Ibarra and Molina-Cruz, 2002|
|Cocos nucifera (coconut)||One of the most wind tolerant plants in the world||Yes||Yes||Chan and Elevitch, 2006|
|Cornus sericea (redosier dogwood)||Europe||Yes||Achigan-Dako, 2010|
|Cortaderia jubata (purple pampas grass)||Yes||Yes|
|Cortaderia selloana (pampas grass)||Yes||Yes|
|Corymbia citriodora (lemon-scented gum)||Yes||Yes||Orwa et al., 2009|
|Crataegus monogyna (hawthorn)||Yes||Yes||Alverson and Sigg, 2008|
|Cupressus sempervirens (Mediterranean cypress)||Common hedge plant||Yes||Yes|
|Cydalima perspectalis (box tree moth)||Adults fly up to 10km per year||Yes||Leuthardt et al., 2010|
|Cytisus scoparius (Scotch broom)||Often planted as hedge plant in gardens||Yes||Yes||USDA-NRCS, 2016|
|Dalbergia sissoo||Yes||Webb et al., 1984|
|Discus rotundatus (rotund disc)||Not explicitly mentioned in literature, but likely based on the species’ biology||Yes|
|Dracaena fragrans (corn plant)||Popular plant for hedges, living fences and windbreaks||Yes||Yes||PROTA, 2020|
|Elaeagnus umbellata (autumn olive)||Ornamental, hedge plant||Yes||Yes||Munger, 2003|
|Epiphyas postvittana (light brown apple moth)||Yes|
|Eriobotrya japonica (loquat)||Often planted as hedge and windbreak||Yes||Yes||Orwa et al., 2009|
|Erwinia amylovora (fireblight)||Hawthorns are susceptible to fire blight but infection does not always result in highly visible symp||Yes||Bonn and Zwet, 2000|
|Erythrina berteroana (coralbean)||Used a living-fence, soil improver, and in alley cropping systems||Yes||Yes||Barrance et al., 2003|
|Etlingera elatior (torch ginger)||Yes||Hammel et al., 2003|
|Eucalyptus globulus (Tasmanian blue gum)||Yes||Yes|
|Eucalyptus robusta (swamp mahogany)||Yes||Yes||Wagner et al., 1999|
|Eugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry)||Yes||Yes|
|Euonymus japonicus (Japanese spindle tree)||Yes||Yes|
|Euphorbia lactea (mottled spurge)||Occasionally planted as a hedge plant||Yes||Yes||Little et al., 1974|
|Euphorbia milii (crown-of-thorns)||Sometimes used as a low hedge||Yes||Yes||Gilman, 1999|
|Euphorbia neriifolia (Indian spurge tree)||Hedges and live fences||Yes||Yes||Useful Tropical Plants, 2020|
|Euphorbia tirucalli (Indian-tree spurge)||Often planted as hedge and barrier plant||Yes||Yes||Orwa et al., 2009|
|Euphorbia trigona (African milk weed)||Grown as a hedge plant||Yes||Yes||USDA-ARS, 2016|
|Ficus benjamina (weeping fig)||Yes||Yes||Wiersema and León, 1999|
|Flacourtia indica (governor's plum)||Yes||PIER, 2014|
|Flemingia macrophylla (large leaf flemingia)||Yes||Yes|
|Galphimia glauca (goldshower)||Hedge plant in gardens and parks||Yes||Yes||Floridata, 2015|
|Galphimia gracilis (goldshower)||Cultivated as windbreaks in vegetable gardens||Yes||Yes||Hanelt et al., 2001|
|Grevillea robusta (silky oak)||Often planted to be used as windbreak tree in plantations||Yes||Yes||Orwa et al., 2009|
|Hibiscus elatus (blue mahoe)||Planted as windbreak in Cuba||Yes||Weaver and Francis, 1989|
|Holmskioldia sanguinea (Chinese hat plant)||Used as a border and hedge plant||Yes||Yes||Gilman, 1999|
|Ipomoea carnea subsp. fistulosa (bush morning glory)||Often used as a hedge plant in gardens||Yes||Yes|
|Ixora casei (giant red ixora)||Ornamental, hedge plant||Yes||Yes||Keeler et al., 2003|
|Ixora coccinea (flame-of-the-woods)||Yes||Yes||Gilman, 1999; Floridata, 2017|
|Jasminum multiflorum (star jasmine)||often used for ornamental hedges||Yes||Learn2grow, 2016|
|Jasminum simplicifolium (Australian wax jasmine)||Used as hedges in gardens||Yes||Miles, 1972|
|Jatropha curcas (jatropha)||Yes||Yes||Pitt, 1999|
|Jatropha gossypiifolia (bellyache bush)||Yes|
|Lagerstroemia indica (Indian crape myrtle)||Planted for boundary and barrier support||Yes||Yes||Orwa et al., 2009|
|Lagerstroemia speciosa (Pride of India)||Planted for boundaries and as a support for rattan||Yes||Yes||Orwa et al., 2009|
|Lantana camara (lantana)||Yes||Yes|
|Lawsonia inermis (Egyptian privet)||Live fence||Yes||Yes||Orwa et al., 2009|
|Leptocybe invasa (blue gum chalcid)||Through the use of eucalyptus as windbreaks||Yes||Yes|
|Leucaena leucocephala (leucaena)||Yes|
|Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush)||Grown for boundary, living fences and hedges||Yes||Yes||USDA-ARS, 2020|
|Ligustrum lucidum (broad-leaf privet)||Widely used as ornamental and hedge plants||Yes||Swarbrick et al., 1999|
|Ligustrum obtusifolium (border privet)||Yes||Nesom, 2009|
|Ligustrum sinense (Chinese privet)||Widespread hedging plant||Yes|
|Limax maximus (leopard slug)||Accidental transport with vegetation and soil||Yes|
|Lonicera maackii (Amur honeysuckle)||Seeds spread by birds and mammals||Yes||Swearingen et al., 2010|
|Malvaviscus penduliflorus (Turk's cap mallow)||Grown as living fences||Yes||Yes||Fryxell, 2007|
|Morinda citrifolia (Indian mulberry)||Windbreak and shade tree||Yes||Yes||Francis, 2004|
|Morus nigra (black mulberry)||Used as a live fence, shade, shelter, and as windbreak as it is wind-resistant||Yes||Orwa et al., 2009|
|Mussaenda philippica (Queen of Philippines)||Planted as a fence shrub||Yes||Yes||Ibironke and Victor, 2016|
|Nopalea cochenillifera (cochineal cactus)||Planted as an ornamental for hedges||Yes||Yes||Hanelt, 2017|
|Noronhia emarginata (Madagascar olive)||Deliberate||Yes||Gilman and Watson, 2018|
|Ocimum gratissimum (African basil)||Planted as hedge plant||Yes||Yes||Orwa et al., 2009|
|Opuntia engelmannii (cactus apple)||Yes|
|Opuntia ficus-indica (prickly pear)||Yes||Yes|
|Opuntia monacantha (common prickly pear)||Yes|
|Opuntia stricta (erect prickly pear)||Intentional farm-farm transfer as a hedging plant||Yes|
|Pandanus tectorius (screw pine)||Yes|
|Parmentiera aculeata (cucumber tree)||Plants are used as living fences||Yes||Villanueva-Partida et al., 2019|
|Pennisetum purpureum (elephant grass)||Used for hedgerows, windbreaks and living fences in horticultural crops and orchards||Yes||Yes||Tropical Forages, 2013|
|Phytophthora lateralis (Port-Orford-cedar root disease)||Yes||Yes||Zobel et al., 1985|
|Pinus pinaster (maritime pine)||Yes||Cronk and Fuller, 1995|
|Pittosporum undulatum (Australian cheesewood)||Yes||Binggeli and Goodland, 1997|
|Polyscias fruticosa (ming aralia)||Ornamental and hedge plant||Yes||Yes||Useful Tropical Plants, 2020|
|Polyscias guilfoylei (geranium aralia)||Planted as windbreaks and living fences||Yes||Yes||Useful Tropical Plants, 2020|
|Populus alba (silver-leaf poplar)||Yes||Yes||Jobling, 1990|
|Populus nigra (black poplar)||Yes||Yes|
|Prosopis juliflora (mesquite)||Introduced as a hedge and also spread from farm to farm||Yes||Yes||Pasiecznik, 2001|
|Pterocarpus indicus (red sandalwood)||Planted as windbreak in croplands||Yes||Yes||Thomson, 2006|
|Pyracantha coccinea (scarlet firethorn)||Yes||Yes||Achigan-Dako, 2010|
|Rhagoletis cingulata (cherry fruit fly)||Can serve as a reservoir from which dispersal can occur||Yes|
|Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose)||Root-stock, and planted as a hedge and for conservation||Yes||Yes||Munger, 2002|
|Rosa rugosa (rugosa rose)||Yes||Yes||Weidema, 2006|
|Rubus rosifolius (roseleaf raspberry)||Ornamental hedge||Yes||Yes||PROTA, 2014|
|Sanchezia speciosa (shrubby whitevein)||Cultivated as a hedge, screen and border plant||Yes||Yes||Meyer and Lavergne, 2004|
|Schinus terebinthifolius (Brazilian pepper tree)||Yes||Baggio, 1988|
|Senna septemtrionalis (smooth senna)||Intentionally introduced and cultivated as a hedge plant||Yes||Yes||Sosef and Maesen, 1997|
|Senna siamea (yellow cassia)||Yes||Yes||Hassain, 1999|
|Senna spectabilis (whitebark senna)||Intentionally introduced in agroforestry as a shade tree and hedgerow||Yes||Yes||Mungatana and Ahimbisibwe, 2010; Wakibara and Mnaya, 2002|
|Senna surattensis (golden senna)||Species grown as hedge and shade tree in plantations and agricultural areas.||Yes||Yes||Hanelt et al., 2001; Little and Skolmen, 1989|
|Sesbania grandiflora (sesbania)||Yes|
|Spartium junceum (Spanish broom)||Yes||Yes|
|Spiraea chamaedryfolia (germander meadowsweet)||Yes||Yes|
|Sterculia apetala (Panama tree)||Yes||Yes||Rodríguez-Vargas, 2007|
|Syzygium malaccense (Malay apple)||Yes||Yes||Little and Skolmen, 1989; Panggabean, 1991; Whistler and Elevitch, 2006|
|Tamarindus indica (tamarind)||Cultivated in agroforestry systems as live fences and windbreak||Yes||Yes||PROTA, 2017|
|Tamarix ramosissima (saltcedar)||And along roads||Yes||Gaskin and Schaal, 2003|
|Tecoma capensis (Cape honeysuckle)||Often grown as an ornamental hedge plant||Yes||Yes||Orwa et al., 2009|
|Tephrosia candida (white tephrosia)||Yes||Yes|
|Thespesia populnea (portia tree)||Yes||Yes|
|Thunbergia erecta (bush clockvine)||Cultivated for hedges in gardens||Yes||Yes||Gilman, 1999|
|Tithonia diversifolia (Mexican sunflower)||Often planted as hedge plant||Yes||Yes||Orwa et al., 2009|
|Triphasia trifolia (limeberry)||Used as hedge plant||Yes||USDA-ARS, 2012|
|Ulex europaeus (gorse)||Yes||Yes||Hoshovsky, 1986|
|Vachellia macracantha (porknut)||used as ornamental and hedge plant for its thorns||Yes||Yes||Missouri Botanical Garden, 2017|
|Ziziphus spina-christi (Christ's thorn jujube)||Yes||Yes||USDA-ARS, 2017|
Many of the early introductions of hedging plants in the 1800s escaped and became invasive only a few years after they were first planted, thus limiting further introductions of similar species in the same areas, as farmers and landowners had learnt from their earlier mistakes. Nonetheless, other introductions were still made in the 1900s, but with increasing awareness of the risks, educational campaigns began, aimed directly at the ornamental plant industry. These have had an impact in some developed countries, notably the USA, Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, as well as some small island states. The costs of control of escaped environmental weeds have been shown to far outweigh any economic benefits from the trade of such species, and there were even moves to introduce a ‘polluter pays’ principle.
Regarding mail-order purchases of seed of invasive hedging species, the only possible control is through the checking of incoming post, as occurs in New Zealand to good effect. However, this is generally limited in effectiveness, and education via public and corporate awareness campaigns is more likely to have an impact and at lower overall cost. Regarding further spread of such species already introduced into an area, targeting plant fairs and markets, and individual suppliers have been shown to reveal the extent of supply of invasive species. In the aforementioned countries, there is also a move to have plant suppliers agree to a voluntary charter whereby they aim to use native species as alternatives where possible.
Haysom K; Murphy S, 2003. The status of invasiveness of forest tree species outside their natural habitat: a global review and discussion paper. Rome, Italy: FAO. http://www.fao.org/DOCREP/006/J1583E/J1583E00.htm
Mueller F von, 1881. Select extra tropical plants, ready eligible for industrial culture and naturalisation. 7th edition. Melbourne, Australia: Government Printer.
Shaughnessy GL, 1986. A case study of some woody plant introductions to the Cape Town area. In: The ecology and management of biological invasions in southern Africa [ed. by Macdonald, I. A. W.\Kruger, F. J.\Ferrar, A. A.]. Cape Town, South Africa: Oxford University Press, 37-43.
Webb DB; Wood PJ; Smith JP; Henman GS, 1984. A guide to species selection for tropical and sub-tropical plantations. Tropical Forestry Papers, No. 15. Oxford, UK: Commonwealth Forestry Institute, University of Oxford.
7/7/2009 Original text by:
Nick Pasiecznik, Consultant, France