|Nandina, AKA heavenly bamboo.|
|Poisonous beauty: these berries contain nandina seeds and cyanide!|
|A nandina draws your gaze from behind a sedimentary rock.|
Nandina is guilty of taking up a tiny bit habitat that would otherwise be used by native species, though it doesn't appear extremely aggressive. It has another problem, though. Nandina berries contain a toxin called cyanide. Birds in the US haven't figured out how to deal with the poison, and some cedar waxwing birds have died from eating lots of the berries. The berries can be toxic to any other animal too, so don't eat them. (It probably takes a lot of berries to hurt a large animal such as a human...still...don't eat them.)
Back to the original question: what's a good naturalist to do? That depends on who you ask. Some will say to never plant nandinas. Others say plant them but clip off the berries this time of year when birds start foraging. Others say don't worry about it - eventually the other species will adapt and nandina will become another important part of our ecosystem. The only problem with this last option is that adaptation takes hundreds to thousands of years, so we won't find out how nandinas mesh with our Middle Tenneessee ecosystem for a looooonnnngggg time! What do you think we should do?