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Invasive Plants of Massachusetts Cynanchum louiseae

What are Invasive Plants?

Invasive plants are non-native plants that are capable of aggressively invading natural areas and displacing native vegetation.  They generally lack predators and parasites, giving them a competitive edge over native species.  About one-third of the established vascular plant taxa in Massachusetts are non-native (Cullina et al., 2011).  However, only a small fraction (approximately 7 percent) of these introduced plants are considered invasive.  Plants that qualify as invasive typically have high rates of growth, reproduction, and dispersal.

Lists of invasive plant species specific to Massachusetts and New England have been compiled by the Massachusetts Invasive Plant Advisory Group (MIPAG) and the Invasive Plant Atlas of New England (IPANE), respectively.  MIPAG categorizes invasive plant species in Massachusetts as "Invasive" (known invasives) and "Likely Invasive" (species that have invasive potential but do not currently meet all of MIPAG's criteria for invasiveness).  They have also identified a list of "Potentially Invasive" species, which have not yet spread to Massachusetts but are known to pose invasive threats.  The IPANE list includes established/widespread invasives, early detection species (which have high invasive potential but are relatively new and have not yet become widespread), and species that are being evaluated for invasiveness.

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, with input from MIPAG, developed a list of Massachusetts Prohibited Plants, which includes species identified as invasive and/or noxious.  It is currently illegal to import, propagate or sell any of the plants on this list within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  The Department derives its authority to enact this ban under Massachusetts General Law, including Chapter 128 Section 2 and Sections 16 through 31A.

Invasive plant species commonly observed in Massachusetts are listed below.  Please note, this is not an all-inclusive list of invasive plants.  For a more comprehensive listing, refer to the IPANE and MIPAG species lists. 

Invasive Plants of Massachusetts

To sort by scientific name or common name, click on the respective column heading.  

Common Name Scientific Name

MIPAG Category

IPANE Species

Importation, Propagation and Sale Prohibited in MA?

Autumn Olive Elaeagnus umbellata  Invasive Yes Yes
Barberry, Common Berberis vulgaris Likely Invasive Yes Yes
Barberry, Japanese Berberis thunbergii Invasive Yes Yes
Bittercress, Narrow-leaf Cardamine impatiens Likely Invasive Yes Yes
Bittersweet, Oriental Celastrus orbiculatus Invasive Yes Yes
Brome-grass, Drooping Bromus tectorum NA Yes No
Broom, Scotch Cytisus scoparius Did not meet criteria* Yes No
Buckthorn, Common Rhamnus cathartica Invasive Yes Yes
Buckthorn, Glossy Frangula alnus Invasive Yes Yes
Celandine Chelidonium majus NA Yes No
Colt's-foot Tussilago farfara Likely Invasive Yes Yes
Dame's Rocket Hesperis matronalis Invasive Yes Yes
Euonymus, Winged Euonymus alata Invasive Yes Yes
Fanwort Cabomba caroliniana Invasive Yes Yes
Forget-me-not, True Myosotis scorpioides Likely Invasive Yes Yes
Garlic, Wild Allium vineale NA Yes No
Goutweed Aegopodium podagraria Invasive Yes Yes
Grass, Reed Canary Phalaris arundinacea Invasive Yes Yes
Honeysuckle, Bell's Lonicera x bella Invasive Yes Yes
Honeysuckle, Japanese Lonicera japonica Invasive Yes Yes
Honeysuckle, Morrow's Lonicera morrowii Invasive Yes Yes
Honeysuckle, Tatarian Lonicera tatarica Likely Invasive Yes Yes
Indigobush Amorpha fruticosa NA Yes No
Ivy, Ground Glechoma hederacea NA Yes No
Knapweed, Spotted Centaurea biebersteinii Likely Invasive Yes Yes
Knotweed, Japanese Polygonum cuspidatum Invasive Yes Yes
Locust, Black Robinia pseudoacacia Invasive Yes Yes
Loosestrife, Purple Lythrum salicaria Invasive Yes Yes
Maple, Norway Acer platanoides Invasive Yes Yes
Mustard, Garlic Alliaria petiolata Invasive Yes Yes
Nightshade, Bittersweet Solanum dulcamara NA Yes No
Pepperweed, Broad-leaved Lepidium latifolium Invasive Yes Yes
Porcelainberry Ampelopsis brevipedunculata Likely Invasive Yes Yes
Privet, Border Ligustrum obtusifolium Likely Invasive Yes Yes
Ragged Robin Lychnis flos-cuculi NA Yes No
Reed, Common Phragmites australis Invasive Yes Yes
Rose, Multiflora Rosa multiflora Invasive Yes Yes
Rose, Rugosa Rosa rugosa Did not meet criteria* Yes No
Sorrel, Sheep Rumex acetosella NA Yes No
Spurge, Cypress Euphorbia cyparissias Likely Invasive Yes Yes
Stiltgrass, Japanese Microstegium vimineum Likely Invasive Yes Yes
Swallowwort, Black Cynanchum louiseae Invasive Yes Yes
Swallowwort, Pale Cynanchum rossicum Likely Invasive Yes Yes
Tree-of-Heaven Ailanthus altissima Invasive Yes Yes
Water Chestnut Trapa natans Invasive Yes Yes
Watercress Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum Did not meet criteria* Yes No
Wintercreeper Euonymus fortunei NA No No

IPANE - Invasive Plant Atlas of New England
MIPAG - Massachusetts Invasive Plant Advisory Group
NA - Not applicable/not listed
* - Species was evaluated, but did not meet criteria to qualify it as invasive or likely invasive.


Cullina, M.D., B. Connolly, B. Sorrie, and P. Sommers, 2011.  The Vascular Plants of Massachusetts: A County Checklist.  First Revision.  Massachusetts Natural Heritage & Endangered Species, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.  Westborough, Massachusetts.

IPANE: Invasive Plant Atlas of New England website, 2012. URL: http://www.eddmaps.org/ipane/index.html.  Accessed July 7, 2012.

Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, 2011.  Massachusetts Prohibited Plant List.  URL: http://www.mass.gov/agr/farmproducts/prohibitedplantlist.htm.  Last modified January 3, 2011.

Massachusetts Invasive Plant Advisory Group (MIPAG) website, 2012.  URL: http://www.massnrc.org/MIPAG/index.htm.  Accessed July 7, 2012. 

Copyright 2002-2012 Mass Nature.  All rights reserved.
Revised: 08/10/12.

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