Invasive Plant Identification


Invasive species are “a species that is non-native to the ecosystem under consideration and whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.” 

Non-native species are those that did not occur in Michigan’s ecological communities prior to widespread European settlement.

Aggressive species are those that are native to Michigan’s ecological communities but may grow vigorously enough to crowd out other plants in the right conditions.

Guide with Images for identification: InvasivePlantsFieldGuide.pdf (

MISIN – Michigan Invasive Species Information Network to report Invasives and use the MISIN App

Local events for Invasive Control:

CISMAs: Managing invasive species near you – Oakland County CISMA 

Check out the recent Invasive Species Summit info

Dealing with Invasives


GO Beyond Beauty Program: 

These 14 plants are still in the nursery trade, please do not purchase and ask the nursery to quit selling.  Raise awareness that these plants are causing harm to our natural areas, even though they have not made it to the Restricted/Prohibited plants in Michigan.  Ask your local municipalities to bar any new purchases of these plants and remove any existing.

The below list consists of high-threat plants that Go Beyond Beauty participants have agreed to remove from sale/stop using (including cultivars). 



  • Phragmites (Invasive): 58,985
  • Garlic mustard: 15,723
  • Brown marmorated stink bug: 12,258
  • Japanese knotweed: 11,353
  • Autumn olive: 11,267
  • Spotted knapweed: 9,407
  • Purple loosestrife: 7,097
  • European frog-bit: 6,145
  • Bush honeysuckle: 6,106
  • Japanese barberry: 5,450

Delaware recently banned the sale of many more plants.  These should be considered suspect in Michigan as well.  See this list below.

Based on the expert assessments, an I-Rank, or invasive rank was determined based on expert responses denoting the level at which a species is invasive in the identified geographic area, in this case, the state of Delaware. These ranks are categorized by high, medium, low, and insignificant. If a species was ranked as high, medium, or low, they are deemed invasive to some degree by the experts and; therefore, are included in the current iteration of the DISC list of Invasive Plant Species. Species ranked as insignificant, were added to the DISC Watch List and will be reevaluated in two years when the list will again be revised. Additionally, for future revisions to the list, selected species thought to be invasive in Delaware will also be evaluated. In contrast to the 2006 DISC list of invasive plants, the new list includes only two categories – invasive and watch list. Below are the results.

DISC Invasive Plant List

Species Common Name
Acer palmatum Japanese maple
Acer platanoides Norway maple
Acorus calamus European sweetflag
Ailanthus altissima Tree of heaven
Alliaria petiolata Garlic mustard
Ampelopsis glandulosa Porcelain berry
Berberis thunbergii Japanese barberry
Celasrus orbiculatus Oriental bittersweet
Centaurea stoebe subsp. micranthos Spotted knapweed
Clematis terniflora Japanese Clematis
Elaeagnus umbellata Autumn olive
Eragrostis curvula Weeping lovegrass
Euonymus alatus Winged euonymus – Burning Bush
Euonymus fortunei Wintercreeper
Fallopia japonica Japanese knotweed
Ficaria verna Lesser celandine
Hedera helix English ivy
Hemerocallis fulva Orange daylily
Hydrilla verticillata Hydrilla
Iris pseudacorus Yellow flag iris, Water flag
Koelreuteria paniculata Golden raintree
Leucojum aestivum Summer snowflake
Ligustrum vulgare European privet
Lonicera japonica Japanese honeysuckle
Lonicera maackii Amur honeysuckle
Lonicera morrowii Morrow’s honeysuckle
Lonicera tatarica Tartarian honeysuckle
Lysimachia nummularia Creeping Jenny
Lythrum salicaria Purple loosestrife
Microstegium vimineum Japanese stilt grass
Miscanthus sinensis Chinese silvergrass
Murdannia keisak Marsh Dewflower
Pachysandra terminalis Japanese pachysandra
Persicaria perfoliata Mile-a-minute
Phalaris arundinacea Reed canarygrass
Phragmites australis subsp. australis European reed
Pinus thunbergiana Japanese black pine
Pyrus calleryana Callery pear
Rosa multiflora Multiflora rose
Rubus phoenicolasius Wineberry
Viburnum dilatatum Linden arrowwood
Viburnum sieboldii Siebold’s viburnum
Vinca minor Lesser periwinkle
Wisteria sinensis Chinese wisteria

DISC Invasive Plant Watch List

Species Common Name
Buddleja davidii Butterflybush
Ilex crenata Japanese holly
Lespedeza thunbergii Thunberg’s bushcover
Lilium lancifolium Tiger lily
Lotus corniculatus Bird’s foot trefoil
Mahonia bealei Leatherleaf mahonia
Quercus acutissima Sawtooth oak
Spirea japonica Japanese spirea
Viburnum plicatum Japanese snowball
Viburnum setigerum Tea viburnum

Replacing Common Invasive Ornamentals with Similar Natives

Nursery Sold Invasive Native Alternative(s) Feature
Bradford Pear Redbud, Native Dogwoods, Shadbush/Amelanchier Small trees with spring bloom
Bamboo Eastern red-cedar Dense, evergreen foliage for privacy
Japanese or Chinese Wisteria American Wisteria Similar to nonnative, but not invasive
Burning Bush Highbush blueberry or Winterberry Brilliant fall color; edible fruit, Bright-red berries in winter
Butterfly Bush New Jersey Tea, Button bush Attract butterflies with flowers
Japanese Barberry Ninebark, Aromatic Sumac purple leaf color varieties, nice fall color
Privet Bayberry Glossy foliage can be pruned to hedge
Purple Loosestrife Blazing-star, Joe-pye weed Spikes of purple flowers in summer Purple flowers attract butterflies
Periwinkle, English Ivy, Pachysandra Wild Strawberry, Canadian Bunchberry, Canadian Anemone, Wild Ginger, Creeping Phlox, Sedges Attracts pollinators, Attractive groundcover