16. Pachysandra

You may be familiar with Pachysandra (Pachysandra terminalis), an extremely common, quickly spreading plant used as a hardy groundcover all over the US. You may not know that this is a Japanese non-native that can become invasive under the right conditions. Allegheny Spurge (Pachysandra procumbens) is the native corollary to Japanese Pachysandra. It’s a shade loving, deer-, disease-, and pest-resistant, drought-tolerant plant with sweet smelling early spring flowers and mottled foliage. Though it spreads more slowly than its Japanese cousin, it fills the same horticultural niche without the danger of taking over neighboring habitats. Its normal range is the Southeastern US, though it performs perfectly well in a Northeastern garden. Filling a garden with plants native to New England should be the priority to best support wildlife and ecosystem health, but growing aesthetically similar, non-invasive alternatives to familiar landscaping staples is a good start! When shopping for plants to add to your garden, always be sure to consider the origin of the plant in question. Asking your local garden center to carry more pesticide-free natives will hopefully encourage commercial growers to meet the rising demand for ecologically friendly plants.