Invasive Plant Information List
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Non-native invasive plants of the Midwest and Eastern United States
Trees Shrubs Forbs, Annuals, Perennials Grasses Vines
Approximately 20% to 30% of all plant species growing in the U. S. have come from other continents with several having the potential to become serious problems to gardeners and environmentalists.
Invasive plants reproduce rapidly crowding out native species, damaging natural areas, and altering ecosystems. Many were brought into the U.S. as landscaping plants and have escaped cultivation. Most produce large numbers of seeds that are dispersed over large areas by the wind or birds and other wildlife making them difficult to control. Mechanical removal and non-chemical treatments should be used to control these invasive exotics whenever possible. These include methods like hand pulling, digging, tilling, cutting, girdling, mulching or burning. As a last resort a chemical herbicide can be used. A glyphosate herbicide such as Roundup, or Rodeo (for aquatic areas) is often recommended where mechanical removal is not effective. Read and follow all instructions when using any herbicide applying the least amount of the safest chemical to specific species of plants in a specific area. This is only a partial list
INVASIVE SHRUBS top of page
Berberis thunbergii ( Japanese Barberry ) introduced in the late 1800s is native to Asia and has become extremely invasive in recent years in the East and Midwest. It grows in sun or partial shade in most soil types forming thickets that shade out native plants with possible adverse effects on birds and other wildlife that depend on native plants. Control by hand pulling or digging plants, regular mowing, and with prescribed burns in prairies and savannahs. Can be treated with a glyphosate herbicide.
Elaeagnus angustifolia (Russian Olive) was brought to the U.S. in the early 1900s and is native to Europe and western Asia. It was used for windbreaks and erosion control and in landscaping. It has escaped cultivation in 17 states and continues to spread, quickly taking over streambanks and wet meadows, choking out native plants and adversely affecting the birds that depend upon them. Small trees can be removed with a weed-pulling tool when the ground is moist. Larger trees can be cut and the stump painted with a glyphosate herbicide.
Elaeagnus umbellate (Autumn Olive) was introduced in the U.S. in 1917 and is native to Afghanistan, China, Korea, and Japan. It can dominate almost any landscape type growing rapidly into an impenetrable, thorny thicket crowding out more valuable native species. A single plant can produce 200,000 seeds each year that are widely spread by birds. Young seedlings can be hand pulled in the early spring and larger shrubs can be cut and the stump painter with a glyphosate herbicide. Periodic fires, cutting or native plant competition do not reliable control this shrub.
Euonymus alatus (Burning Bush) introduced in the 1860s is native of Asia. It grows well in sun or shade and dry or moist soils and has escaped cultivation in the eastern U.S. and Midwest where it replaces native shrubs. Control by cutting and painting the stumps with a glyphosate herbicide.
Euonymus fortunei (Wintercreeper) introduced into the U.S. as an evergreen groundcover and is native to Asia. Its seeds are dispersed over a several mile radius by birds. It has invaded forests in the eastern and midwestern states from Chicago, Il. southward where It can form dense mats that smother and kill wildflowers. Control by hand-pulling or cutting and applying a 20% solution of a glyphosate herbicide to the stems.
Ligustrum vulgar (Common or European Privet) L. sinense (Chinese Privet) L. japonicum (Japanese Privet) These three Privet have been widely used as hedges and all are prolific producers of seed relished by birds that spread them far from their original plantings. They are extremely aggressive and can form dense, impenetrable thickets crowding out more desirable native plants. Control by hand digging small plants or with a glyphosate herbicide. Use foliage treatment for actively growing plants or cut and treat the stumps.
Lonicera maackii, (Amur Honeysuckle) native to China, Korea, and Japan was introduced in 1896.
Lonicera morrowii, (Morrow Honeysuckl) native to Japan was introduced in the late1800s.
Lonicera tatarica, (Tatarian Honeysuckle) native to Turkey and southern Russia. Bush Honeysuckle has escaped over a large portion of the Eastern U.S. and Midwest. It grows in a wide range of conditions transforming prairies into scrub and invades forests crowding out the native flora. Control by hand pulling small plants and cutting large plants and painting the stumps with a 20% solution of glyphosate herbicide.
Rhamnus cathartica (Common or European Buckthorn) native to Eurasia was introduced in the 1800s and now grows in the wild throughout the northeastern and northcentral third of the U.S. It invades prairies, savannahs, and woodlands forming impenetrable thickets displacing native species. All parts of the tree contain anthraquinones, which cause vomiting and diarrhea if eaten. Control by pulling seedlings and girdling larger shrubs at the bass or cut and treat with a glyphosate herbicide in mid to late Autumn.
Rhamnus frangula (Smooth or Glossy Buckthorne) native to Eurasia introduced in the U.S. in the 1800s as an ornamental shrub. It has aggressively invaded bogs, marshes, riverbanks, fens, and dry sites such as prairies, sand forests, and roadsides. Due to its prolific seed production it rapidly invades wetlands, crowding out native species. Control with a foliar application of a 2% solution of glyphosate herbicide during spring growth or cut and treat stumps with a 50% solution.
Rosa multiflora (Multiflora Rose) introduced from Japan and Korea in the 1860s as an ornamental shrub it has spread rapidly over the eastern and midwestern U.S. and is classified as a noxious weed in several states. Control with continued mowing or by pulling or digging after the thorny tops have been removed or cut and treat with a glyphosate herbicide.
Spiraea japonica (Japanese Spiraea) introduced from Asia and commonly sold through mail-order catalogs and local nurseries. It has escaped cultivation and grows in cool but not dry habitats from New England to Indiana south to Tennessee and Georgia. It can spread rapidly forming dense colonies dominating streamsides and rich woodland understories displacing native plants. Control with a strong solution of glyposate herbicide to the leaves of growing plants prior to flowering.
ANNUALS and PERENNIALS top of page
Alliria petiolata (Garlic Mustard) native to Europe, North Africa, Sri Lanka, and India now can be found from Quebec and Ontario, south to North Carolina and Kentucky, and west to Kansas and North Dakota. This biennial herb invades forested natural areas dominating the ground layer and is a severe threat to native species. Control with early spring fire, hand pulling, or cutting at ground level when in full bloom and removing the cut stems. A 2% solution of Roundup can be applied in spring or fall when most native vegetation is dormant. Basagran (Bentazon) spray can also be used with less effect on evergreen shrubs.
Carduus nutans (Musk Thistle) native of Europe introduced in the 1850's and has now naturalized over a wide area of the U. S. and Canada. Listed as a noxious weed in Missouri, It grows in old fields, pastures, along roadsides, and is a major weed on range and pasture land. It invades native grass lands and glade communities. Both annual and biennial it can produce 11,000 thousand seeds per plant with the seeds beginning to disperse within 7 days of flowering and remaining viable for up to 10 years. The best control is by hand cutting at ground level with a sharpened shovel just before flowering to destroy the root crown buds. Chemical control is most effective when the plants are in rosette stage and least effective when it is in flower.
Centaurea cyanus (Cornflower or Bachelorís button) originally from Europe and the Near East it is now found almost worldwide. It has escaped from cultivation throughout the U.S. and is particular invasive in native grasslands and prairies. It is a common addition to commercial wildflower mixes so carefully read your product labels. Once established, it is difficult to control. Glyphosate herbicide is effective but will also kill the surrounding native grasses and wildflowers.
Cirsium arvense (Canada Thistle), native to Europe, is listed as a noxious weed in Missouri. It has spread throughout the northern U. S. east of the Rocky Mountains. It is introduced by airborne seeds into disturbed areas where it spreads rapidly by rhizomes or root segments. This alien species can crowd out native forbs and grasses in prairies, glades, and savannas, especially in disturbed areas. Control with late spring prescribed fires, May and June. Early spring burns may increase sprouting and reproduction. Repeated pulling or cutting plants from June through August is also effective. A spring application of Roundup applied when the plants are 6 to 10 inches tall normally kills the entire plant, including the roots.
Coronilla varia (Crown Vetch) was introduced in the 1950s as erosion control and is native to southwest Asia and northern Africa. It invades sunny areas in the Northeast and Midwest shading out native plants and degrading wildlife habitat and is now being considered for control by federal, state, and local agencies. The best control is to not plant Crown Vetch. Control small areas by covering with a heavy mulch to deprive the plant of sunlight. Weed-b-Gon (2,4-d and dicamba) used with caution also provides effective control.
Dipsacus fullonum (Common Teasel) is a native of Europe. It invades natural habitats, fields, pastures, roadsides, railroads, and disturbed ground. It can form dense stands that are difficult to eradicate. Teasel seed heads are widely used in crafts and dried arrangements and It is commonly spread when these are discarded carelessly.
Euphorbia esula (Leafy Spurge) native to Europe and is a serious management problem in the north and central plains states in both moist and dry sites and is especially aggressive in dry situations. If left unchecked native forbs and grasses can be completely displaced by leafy spurge in a few years. It reproduces by both seeds and crown and root buds making it difficult to eradicate. Control with a combination of prescribed fire and herbicide spray. Spray in September, burn the following spring (April), spray a second time in June and follow with a burn in October.
Fallopia japonica (Japanese Knotweed) a native of eastern Asia introduced as an ornamental in the late 19th century. It has spread over most of the eastern and northern U.S. and Lower Canada. It is a particular problem along riverbanks and wet areas where it forms dense stands that exclude native vegetation and reduce wildlife habitat. Once established, it is extremely difficult to eradicate. Control by digging out the entire plant, including tiny pieces of rhizome or with persistent cutting throughout the growing season and/or repeated use of a glyphosate herbicide.
Lespedeza cuneata (Sericea Lespedeza) a native of eastern Asia and has been used extensively for erosion control along highways in the eastern and Midwestern U. S. It invades open ground, meadows, fields, prairies, roadsides and woodlands crowding out native species. Birds spread the seed far from its original plantings. It is difficult to control once established.
Lotus corniculatus (Birdís-foot Trefoil, Deer Vetch) introduced in the 1880s and now commercially available in 25 cultivars and planted throughout the U.S. and Canada for livestock forage and as erosion control. It thrives in the tallgrass prairies in the Midwest where it can form dense mats choking out most native vegetation. Herbicides containing MCPA and clopyralid provide effective control when applied as a foliar spray.
Lythrum salicaria (Purple Loosestrife) a native of Eurasia introduced in the northeastern U.S. in the early 1800s it has since spread through the temperate parts of North America and is expanding its range colonizing wetland habitats, including meadows, marshes, riverbanks, and lake shores. Extensive stands replace native vegetation reducing the food and shelter for wildlife. Loosestrife has been declared a noxious weed in several states however cultivars of L. salicaria and L. virgatum are widely available. Hand pull individual plants however large populations are extremely difficult to control. Soil disturbance through digging may enhance its spread. Frequent cutting at ground level is effective but must be continued for several years (burn the cut stems because the plants resprout from fragments). Spot treatments of a glyphosate herbicide are also effective.
INVASIVE GRASSES top of page
Festuca arundinacea (Tall Fescue) a native of Europe used in the U.S. for erosion control, as a pasture grass, and a turfgrass. It is invasive throughout the warmer, drier areas from Texas and Florida to Canada where it has replaced diverse native herbaceous communities, especially in the remnant prairies of the Midwest. Control with prescribed fires when the fescue is flowering and its energy reserves are low. Repeat burning annually for several years. Light infestations can be controlled with spot applications of a glyphosate herbicide in the spring and fall when other more desirable species are dormant.
Phalaris Aquatica (also known as P. Tuberosa, Harding grass) introduced into the northern U.S. for forage from Europe and Asia and is found widely from coast to coast today. It occupies drainage ways and has invaded many wetland habitats, including wet prairies in the Midwest. In the wild it spreads vegetatively forming dense clumps that coalesce into single-species stands covering large acreages and crowding out native species. In the garden it can be hand-pulled. Control in the wild by mowing, prescribed burning and wick application of a glyphosate herbicide licensed for use over water.
Sorghum halepense (Johnson Grass) a native of southern Europe and Asia it has spread nearly world wide. This is a widespread noxious weed that invades prairies, stream banks and riverbank communities as well as pastures, crop fields, roadsides, and open, disturbed areas. It spreads easily both from seeds and pieces of the white, fleshy rhizomes.
INVASIVE VINES top of page
Celatrus orbiculatus (Oriental or Asiatic Bittersweet) introduced to the U.S. in the mid 1800s from Japan, Korea and China, and has escaped cultivation from Maine to Georgia and west to Minnesota. It is a menace to natural and landscaped areas throughout the East. Control with regular mowing or with triclopyr herbicide used as a foliar spray on applied to freshly cut stumps.
Hedera helix (English Ivy) native to Eurasia introduced in North America in colonial times. It has escaped cultivation in Middle Atlantic, Southeast and West Coast states and is considered a serious problem California, Oregon and Washington. The plant forms "ivy deserts" in forests, crowding out native trees and shrubs that are essential for wildlife. The best control is by hand removal. Herbicides are not effective on English Ivy.
Lonicera japonica (Japanese or Hallís Honeysuckle) native to East Asia, introduced in New York in 1806 as a landscape plant and has spread over the eastern half of the U.S. from Massachusetts to Florida, Texas, Missouri and Illinois. Japanese Honeysuckle spreads rapidly overtopping and smothering small trees and shrubs. Control with a 1.5% glyphosate herbicide used as a foliar spray shortly after the first killing frost when native plants are dormant. Pulling, cutting, mowing or burning generally stimulates dense regrowth.
Pueraria lobata (Kudzu) native to Japan was introduced at the Philadelphia Exposition in 1876 and now extends from Connecticut to Missouri and Oklahoma, south to Texas and Florida. It was used for livestock forage in the south and for erosion control on roadsides. Kudzu covers everything in its path growing up to 1 foot per day. Control with overgrazing, prescribed fires, digging, or repeated cutting followed with herbicide application in late summer continued over a 3 to 4 year period.
Acer ginnala, (Amur Maple) introduced in the U.S. in the 1860s is native of China, Manchuria, and Japan. There are extensive wild populations in Illinois and Missouri. The seeds are widely disseminated by the wind. It displaces native shrubs and understory trees in open forests, and shades out native species in prairie habitats. Control wild populations by cutting and treating the stumps with a glyphosate herbicide. It can also be controlled with fire in prairies.
Ailanthus altissima (Tree-of-heaven) introduced as an ornamental tree in the 1780s is native to China. It is found in the wild from Massachusetts to northern Florida, and Texas, and west to California, and Washington. Its seeds are spread by the wind and it has abundant root sprouts that can develop into extensive thickets displacing native vegetation. In urban areas it is a maintenance problem for landscapers. Control by cutting and treating the stumps with a glyphosate herbicide.
Melia azedarach (Chinaberry Tree) introduced in the southeast in the 1830s is native to southwestern Asia. In Florida it is listed as a category 1 invasive plant. It spreads at a phenomenal rate, outcompeting native herbaceous and deciduous plants in open and wooded habitats from the Carolinas to Texas. Seedlings can be hand pulled and the seed producing mature tree should be removed.
Paulownia tomentosa (Princess Tree) introduced in the 1840s as an ornamental is native to China. It has escaped cultivation in the eastern half of the U.S. where it can grow in most habitats and outcompete native species. It can cause maintenance problems along roads and utility rights-of -way and in gardens. Control by hand pulling small seedlings and by cutting larger trees and treating the stump with a 50% solution of glyphosate herbicide.
Ulmus pumila (Siberian Elm) introduced in the 1860s is native to China and Siberia. It has escaped cultivation and has invaded areas from Utah and Idaho and eastward. Seeds are disseminated by the wind forming thickets that can invade and dominate prairies. Control by hand pulling seedlings and girdling larger trees or by cutting and treating the stumps with a glyphosate herbicide or by regular controlled burns in prairies.
Chinese tallow (Triadica
sebifera (Syn. Sapium sebiferum) has
become naturalized in the southern coastal plain from South Carolina south to
Texas, it has become naturalized in over half of the counties in Florida
displacing native species. Chinese tallow can be seen in landscapes around the
state and until very recently, could be purchased in garden centers or
nurseries, aiding its spread throughout Florida.
tallow can invade a variety of habitats ranging from swampy to saline waters,
and from full sun to shade situations. It is often found growing along
roadsides, coastal areas, and streams. Larger specimens can produce up to
100,000 seeds that may be eaten and dispersed by birds, facilitating the spread
of tallow. Regrowth often occurs from cut stumps or roots. Native species are
crowded out once Chinese tallow becomes established. The leaves and fruit are
toxic to cattle and cause nausea and vomiting in humans.
should NOT distribute Chinese tallow-trees or seeds (as well as other invasive
exotics). And are encouraged to remove them. Removal of seedlings is also
important. Seedlings should be
continually pulled by hand before they reach seed-bearing maturity. Native or
noninvasive non-native trees can be planted in areas previously occupied by
Chinese tallow. Tree species recommended that are similar in size to Chinese
tallow include blackgum, maples, dogwood, and crape myrtles.
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