PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM) – Invasive plants pose a threat to everyone. From causing issues in water quality to harming other important native plants like trees, invasive plants can be a silent killer.

This is why it is important for everyone to do their part and eradicate invasive plants that might be growing in their yard.

Invasive plants impact

Water quality

An area that is heavy in invasive plants that act as groundcover has little soil stabilization due to the limited root structure of these invasive plants. This means the area is more prone to erosion during a flooding event. This erosion sends sediment into the area’s water and causes the water quality to decrease.


When an invasive plant is present, it prefers to be the only plant in its domain. It will cause native plants to be displaced and prevent growth, leading to less biological diversity in an area, which is important for a healthy habitat. Where an invasive plant is located, it will usually end up being the only plant present. Due to this, invasive plants along with habitat loss are the leading causes of the loss of biodiversity amongst native plants and species.

Wildlife habitats

Invasive plants are the number one reason that native plants and animals decrease in an area. They are even listed as a problem in the Endangered Species Act. Native animals depend on native plants for food and shelter. When an invasive plant takes over, the animals are left without their essential means of survival.

For example, the endangered monarch butterfly, which is an important pollinator, relies solely on milkweed as a caterpillar. Eleven of the 140 species of milkweed are native to Pennsylvania. If an invasive plant takes the place of a milkweed plant, then monarch butterfly caterpillars have no food.

Tree loss

Invasive plants can cause trees to have reduced growth, fall in the early stages of life and even cause them to not develop at all. They can block out the sun and not allow seeds to grow. Certain invasive plants can also grow in the tree canopy and cause them to be weighed down, making them more likely to get knocked down during a windstorm.


Invasive plants cost the economy a lot of money. Between 2015 and 2017, Pennsylvania dedicated $650,000 to controlling invasive plants. Invasive plants cost the United States an estimated $2 billion dollars every year.

How to handle invasive plants

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, these are the steps you should take to help control invasive plants at your home.

Plant natives

If you want to keep invasive plants away, fill the space with native plants. As a bonus, native plants are easier than regular plants to maintain. For a list of native Pennsylvania plants, visit here.

Be smart with fertilizer

Applying too much fertilizer can help invasive plants grow and thrive. Conduct a soil test before you use a fertilizer and opt for organic, slow-decomposing compost and mulches over chemicals.

Check often and act fast

Invasive plants are easiest to control when they are young. Check your property often to ensure there are none growing. If there are, get rid of them quickly by digging them up or cutting them. If the population has grown too large for those methods, use herbicides with the spot application method to eradicate them.

Clean your equipment and shoes

You could pick up the seeds, roots, or other plant parts of an invasive plant while you are away from home. Check your clothing and shoes for unwanted travelers before stepping into your yard. If you fish, check your gear, including your boat, for any aquatic plant parts before coming home.

List of plants invasive to Pennsylvania

According to the PA DCNR, these are the invasive plants in the Keystone State.


  • Amur maple
  • Norway maple
  • Sycamore maple
  • European black alder
  • Tree-of-heaven
  • Mimosa
  • Japanese angelica tree
  • Paper mulberry
  • White mulberry
  • Princess-tree, empress-tree
  • Cork tree
  • Callery or bradford pear
  • Bee-bee tree
  • Siberian elm


  • European and Japanese barberries
  • Butterfly bush
  • Russian olive and autumn olive
  • Winged euonymus or burning bush
  • Chinese and shrubby bushclovers
  • Privets
  • Shrub honeysuckles
  • Common buckthorn
  • Jetbead
  • Multiflora Rose
  • Wineberry
  • Japanese spiraea
  • Doublefile viburnum, Linden viburnum and Siebold viburnum
  • Guelder rose


  • Chocolate vine
  • Porcelain berry
  • Oriental bittersweet
  • Winter creeper
  • English ivy
  • Japanese hops
  • Japanese honeysuckle
  • Mile-a-minute weed
  • Kudzu
  • Common and bigleaf periwinkle
  • Black and pale swallow-wort
  • Chinese and Japanese wisteria


  • Small carpetgrass
  • Cheatgrass and poverty brome
  • Common velvet grass
  • Japanese stiltgrass
  • Chinese silvergrass
  • Wavyleaf basketgrass
  • Reed canary grass
  • Common reed
  • Golden, yellow groove, and giant timber bamboo
  • Rough bluegrass
  • Ravenna grass
  • Tall fescue
  • Shattercane and johnsongrass


  • Goutweed
  • Garlic mustard
  • Wild chervil
  • Narrowleaf bittercress
  • Musk thistle
  • Black, brown, and spotted knapweeds
  • Greater celandine
  • Canada thistle
  • Bull thistle
  • Spiny plumeless thistle
  • Poison hemlock
  • Crown-vetch
  • Jimsonweed
  • Smallflower and hairy willow herb
  • Goats rue
  • Orange daylily
  • Giant hogweed
  • Dame’s-rocket
  • Yellow flag iris
  • Moneywort
  • Purple loosestrife
  • Star-of-Bethlehem
  • Japanese pachysandra
  • Wild parsnip
  • Beefsteak plant
  • Bristled knotweed
  • Japanese and giant knotweed
  • Lesser celandine

Aquatic Plants

  • Carolina fanwort
  • Didymo
  • Brazilian water-weed
  • Hydrilla
  • Starry stonewort
  • Floating primrose-willow
  • Parrot feather watermilfoil
  • Eurasian water-milfoil
  • Curly pondweed
  • Water chestnut
  • Narrow-leaved cattail
  • Hybrid cattail