(WHTM) — You’re probably used to seeing invasive creatures like spotted lantern fly or the Japanese beetle, but did you know there are about 300 species of invasive plants, insects, pathogens, and animals that currently or could potentially negatively impact Pennsylvania.
Nearly half of the state’s invasive species are plants, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
Invasive plants in Pennsylvania are tracked in an online database which can be found on the department’s website. Each of these species is given a overall priority score from 1 to 10 by the Governor’s Invasive species council.
Species are also scored on their risk of invasiveness, threat to state lands and natural areas, and importance to the landscape and nursery industry.
The species with the highest priority score, according to the database, was Ailanthus altissima, more commonly known as the Tree-of-Heaven. This terrestrial plant had a priority score of 9.1
According to Penn State Extension, the Tree-of-Heaven is a rapidly growing deciduous tree with an extensive root system and prolific sprouting ability. The plant, which has a foul odor, can grow almost anywhere, is difficult to control and will quickly take over the areas that it’s in.
Some other invasive plants with high priority scores include, Mile-A-Minute (Persicaria perfoliata), 8.7; Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum), 8.6; Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), 8.3; and Kudzu (Pueraria lobata), 8.1, which is also sometimes called
“the vine that ate the south.”
Some of the invasive plants are also considered noxious weeds. This Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture defines this as “a plant that is determined to be injurious to public health, crops, livestock, agricultural land or other property and cannot be sold, transported, planted, or otherwise propagated in Pennsylvania.”
A list of noxious weeds is also maintained on the department’s website.