invasive plant and yard moss

Asked February 17, 2020, 11:52 AM EST

Hello, We moved into this home a year ago. This plant is growing in the yard; the main plant is tree height but there are several small starts of this plant all over the ground near it. Do you know what it is and whether it is invasive? We are trying to have native or beneficial plants in our yard. Also our front yard had grass but as of this winter has been completely taken over by moss. Is there a benefit to leaving the moss. This part of the yard is well shaded in the summer and grass grows with out watering. What is the healthiest way to treat moss and promote grass if we do so? Thanks for the help! Emily

Lane County Oregon

1 Response

Dear Emily,

Thanks for reaching out to us with your question. The plant in your pictures looks like a species of privet (Ligustrum sp.):

https://landscapeplants.oregonstate.edu/plants/ligustrum-sinense

https://landscapeplants.oregonstate.edu/plants/ligustrum-japonicum

http://www.hort.uconn.edu/plants/detail.php?pid=255

https://www.invasiveplantatlas.org/subject.html?sub=11311

There are several species of privet that are commonly planted as landscape hedges in the US, none of which are native to North America. Some species of privet are considered invasive. This is of most concern in the eastern US, but the city of Eugene lists common privet (Ligustrum vulgare) as an "invasive plant species discouraged from use": https://www.eugene-or.gov/DocumentCenter/View/37891/Invasive-Species-Discouraged

If you would like to narrow down the plant you have to the species, the links above may be helpful, or I would suggest bringing a sample of a small branch and a bunch of berries along with a photo that is zoomed out to show the entire form of the plant to your local Master Gardener help desk.

If you are interested in native or non-invasive ornamental plant ideas for Oregon, I recommend this guide as a good start: https://www.nature.org/media/oregon/gardensmart-rev-2010.pdf

Greatplantpicks.org is another, more extensive resource of plants that do well west of the Cascades: https://www.greatplantpicks.org/

Shade is one of the main reasons moss invades lawns – moss loves shade while grass thrives in the sun. This OSU extension publication called “Managing Moss in Lawns in Western Oregon” should get you started with some ideas on what to do about it: https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/em9175

If you have any more questions or concerns, please let us know!