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Invasive Plants in the Chicago Region

Chicago Botanic Garden Status:

RRemove as soon as possible, including all cultivars, and/or do not add to collection in future
PPhase out (species that pose a lesser invasive risk, form significant structural features in landscape, and will be time-consuming to replace will be phased out over a five- to ten-year period)
EEvaluate species and cultivars, then remove invasive taxa
WWatch and monitor for signs of invasiveness

 

Scientific Name
Common Name
Plan

Alternatives

Acer ginnala
Amur maple
PAcer rubrum (red maple), Quercus alba (white oak)
Acer platanoides
Norway maple
RAcer x freemanii 'Marmo' (Marmomaple), Acer miyabei (Miyabe maple), Acer rubrum (red maple), Quercus alba (whiteoak)
Aegopodium podagraria
Goutweed
RAsarum (wild ginger), Epimedium spp. (barrenwort), Glandularia canadensis (mock rose vervain), Hosta (hosta)
Agropyron repens
Quack grass
RPanicum virgatum cvs. (switch grass), Sporobolus heterolepsis (prairie dropseed)
Ailanthus altissima
Tree-of-heaven
RGymnocladus dioicus (Kentucky coffee tree), Celtis occidentalis (Hackberry), Styphnolobium (formerly Sophora) japonica (Pagoda tree)
Alliaria petiolata
Garlic mustard
RNot used ornamentally
Alnus glutinosa
European black alder
PCeltis laevigata (sugarberry), Celtis occidentalis (common hackberry), Nyssa sylvatica (black tupelo)
Alternanthera philoxeroides
Alligator weed
RNot used ornamentally
Ampelopsis brevipedunculata
Porcelainberry vine
RClematis spp. (clematis)
Anthriscus sylvestris
Wild chervil
RAruncus spp. (goatsbeard), Achillea spp. (yarrow)
Arctium minus
Lesser burdock
RNot used ornamentally
Artemisia absinthium
Wormwood
RBrunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost' (Siberian bugloss), Pulmonaria 'Silver Shimmers' (lungwort), Senecio cineraria (dusty miller), Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian sage)
Azolla spp.
Water fern
RLemna minor (lesser duck weed)
Berberis thunbergii
Japanese barberry
RPhysocarpus opulifolius (ninebark), Ribes odoratum (clove currant)

Berberis koreana

Korean barberry
RPhysocarpus opulifolius (ninebark), Ribes odoratum (clove currant)

Berberis koreana x B. thunbergii
Hybrid barberry

RPhysocarpus opulifolius (ninebark), Ribes odoratum (clove currant)

Berberis thunbergii
Japanese barberry

RPhysocarpus opulifolius (ninebark), Ribes odoratum (clove currant)
Berberis vulgaris
European barberry
RPhysocarpus opulifolius (ninebark), Ribes odoratum (clove currant)
Bromus inermis
Smooth brome
RNot used ornamentally.
Butomus umbellatus
Flowering rush
RJuncus effusus (common rush), Sagittaria, Schoenoplectus americanus (bulrush)
Cabomba caroliniana
Fanwort
RNot used ornamentally
Carduus nutans
Nodding plumeless thistle
REchinacea spp. (coneflower), Silphium spp. (rosinweed, prairie dock, compass plant)
Celastrus orbiculatus
Oriental bittersweet
RAristolochia durior (Dutchman's pipe), Celastrus scandens (American bittersweet)
Centaurea maculosa
Spotted knapweed
REchinacea spp. (coneflower), Silphium spp. (rosinweed, prairie dock, compass plant)
Cirsium arvense
Canada thistle
REchinacea spp. (coneflower), Silphium spp. (rosinweed, prairie dock, compass plant)
Cirsium palustre
Marsh plume thistle
R(see C. arvense)
Cirsium vulgare
Bull thistle
R(see C. arvense)
Conium maculatum
Poison hemlock
RAruncus spp. (goatsbeard), Achillea spp. (yarrow)
Coronilla varia
Crown vetch
RVicia americana (purple vetch) Tephrosia virginiana (Goat’s-rue), Phlox subulata (creeping phlox)
Cotoneaster multiflorus
Many-flowered cotoneaster
PPhysocarpus opulifolius (ninebark), Ribes odoratum (clove currant)
Daucus carota
Queen Anne's lace
RAruncus spp. (goatsbeard), Achillea spp. (yarrow)
Dioscorea batatas
Chinese yam
RNo ornamental alternative; used medicinally
Dipsacus laciniatus
Cutleaf teasel
REchinacea spp. (coneflower), Rudbeckia spp. (black-eyed Susan)
Dipsacus sylvestris
Teasel
R(see D. laciniatus)
Duchesnia indica
Wild strawberry
RWaldsteinia ternata (barren strawberry)
Echinops sphaerocephalus
Globe thistle
RLiatris spp. (blazing star), Monarda spp.(beebalm), Phlox spp.(phlox), Salvia spp. (sage), Thalictrum spp.(meadowrue), Veronica spp. (speedwell)
Egeria densa
Brazilian elodea
RElodea canadensis (water weed)
Eichornia crassipes
Water hyacinth
RNo ornamental alternative
Elaeagnus umbellatus
Autumn olive
RAesculus parviflora (bottlebrush buckeye), Aronia melanocarpa (black chokeberry), Corylus americana (American filbert)
Epilobium hirsutum
Hairy fireweed
R(see E. sphaerocephalus)
Euonymus alatus
Winged euonymus
REuonymus americanus (American strawberry bush), Itea virginica (Virginia sweetspire), Rhus copallina var. latifolia 'Morton' (Prairie Flame shining sumac)
Euonymus europeaus
European spindletree
REuonymus americanus (American strawberry bush), Itea virginica (Virginia sweetspire)
Euonymus fortunei
Wintercreeper
RAsarum spp.(ginger), Helleborus spp. (hellebore)
Euphorbia cyparissias
Cypress spurge
ROriganum laevigatum (ornamental oregano), selected Sedum spp. (stonecrop)
Euphorbia esula
Leafy spurge
RAurinia saxatilis (basket-of-gold)
Festuca elatior (=F. arundinacea)
Tall fescue
RNot used ornamentally
Festuca pratense
Meadow fescue
RNot used ornamentally
Glechoma hederacea
Ground ivy
RNot used ornamentally
Hemerocallis fulva (locally invasive)
Tawny daylily
R (wild type only)Hemerocallis hybrids (daylily), Lilium spp. & cvs. (lily), Papaver orientale (Oriental poppy)
Heracleum mantegazzianum
Giant hogweed
RAruncus spp. (goatsbeard), Achillea spp. (yarrow)
Hesperis matronalis
Dame's rocket
R(See E. sphaerocephalus)
Hippophae rhamnoides
Common sea buckthorn
RShepherdia argentea (buffaloberry)
Hydrilla verticillata
Hydrilla, water thyme
RNot used ornamentally
Hydrocharis morsus-ranae
European frog-bit
RNative Nuphar (yellow pond lily) and Nymphaea (waterlily)
Hypericum perforatum
Common St. Johnswort
ROther Hypericum spp. (St. Johnswort)
Inula helenium
Horse-heal
RHeliopsis spp. (false sunflower), Helianthus spp. (sunflower), Coreopsis spp. (tickseed)
Ipomoea aquatica
Water spinach
RJusticia americana (American water willow)
Iris pseudacorus
Yellow flag iris
RIris fulva 'Lois Yellow' (copper iris), Iris virginica var. shrevii (interior blue flag iris)
Lespedeza cuneata
Chinese bush clover
RBaptisia spp. (wild indigo)
Leymus arenarius
Blue lyme grass
RAmmophila breviligulata (American beach grass)
Ligustrum obtusifolium
Border privet
PPhysocarpus opulifolius (ninebark), Ribes odoratum (clove currant)
Ligustrum vulgare
Common privet
PPhysocarpus opulifolius (ninebark), Ribes odoratum (clove currant)
Linaria vulgaris
Butter-and-eggs
RAntirrhinum majus cvs. (snapdragons), Calibrachoa cvs. (million bells), Digitalis spp. (foxglove), Nemesia fruticans cvs. (nemesia)
Lonicera x bella
Bell's honeysuckle
RAmelanchier spp. & cvs. (serviceberry), Calycanthus floridus (Carolina allspice), Diervilla spp. (bush honeysuckle)
Lonicera japonica
Japanese honeysuckle
RClematis spp. (clematis), native Lonicera spp. (native honeysuckles)
Lonicera maackii
Amur honeysuckle
RAmelanchier spp. & cvs. (serviceberry), Calycanthus floridus (Carolina allspice), Diervilla spp. (bush honeysuckle)
Lonicera morrowii
Morrow's honeysuckle
RAmelanchier spp. & cvs. (serviceberry), Calycanthus floridus (Carolina allspice), Diervilla spp. (bush honeysuckle)
Lonicera tatarica
Tatarian honeysuckle
RAmelanchier spp. & cvs. (serviceberry), Calycanthus floridus (Carolina allspice), Diervilla spp. (bush honeysuckle)
Lotus corniculatus
Bird's-foot trefoil
RWaldsteinia ternata (barren strawberry), Chrysogonum virginianum (green and gold) for groundcovers; Thermopsis caroliniana (Carolina lupine), Baptisia sphaerocarpa (yellow wild indigo) for a more upright plant
Lysimachia nummularia
Moneywort
RChrysogonum virginianum (green and gold), Origanum laevigatum (ornamental oregano)
Lysimachia verticillata
Whorled loosestrife
ROenothera fruiticosa (also known as Oenothera tetragona [sundrops]), Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed), Liatris spp. (blazing star), Physostegia virginiana 'Vivid' (obedient plant)
Lythrum salicaria
Purple loosestrife
ROenothera fruiticosa (also known as Oenothera tetragona [sundrops]), Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed), Liatris spp. (blazing star), Physostegia virginiana 'Vivid' (obedient plant)
Malus spp. (crabapples)
Crabapple
E, ICrataegus spp. (hawnthorn species), Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Melilotus alba
White sweet-clover
RBaptisia spp. (wild indigo)
Melilotus officinalis
Yellow sweet- clover
RBaptisia spp. (wild indigo)
Microstegium vimineum
Japanese stilt grass
RNot used ornamentally
Miscanthus sacchariflorus
Amur silver grass
R(see A. repens)
Miscanthus sinensis
Chinese silver grass, Autumn Red Miscanthus, Flame Grass, Eulalia, Maiden Grass, Zebra Grass (exempted cultivars are M.s. ‘Silberpfeil,’ ‘Hinjo’ and Miscanthus x giganteus)
R(see A. repens)
Morus alba
Mulberry
PCrataegus spp. (hawthorn species), Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Myriophyllum aquaticum
Parrot feather
RElodea canadensis (water weed)
Myriophyllum spicatum
Eurasian watermilfoil
RElodea canadensis (water weed)
Najus minor
Toothed water weed
RNot used ornamentally
Nasturtium officinale
Watercress
RNot used ornamentally
Nymphoides peltata
Yellow floatingheart
RNative Nuphar (yellow pond lily)and Nymphaea (waterlily)
Pastinaca sativa
Wild parsnip
RNot used ornamentally
Perilla frutescens
Beefsteak plant
RMonarda didyma (bee balm), Pycnanthemum muticum (mountain mint), Coleus, Occimum basilicum (basil)
Persicaria perfoliata (formerly Polygonum perfoliatum)
Mile-a-minute vine
RNot used ornamentally
Phalaris arundinacea
Reed canary grass
RSpartina pectinata 'Aureomarginata' (variegated prairie cordgrass)
Phellodendron amurense (excluding male cultivars)
Amur corktree
RAcer rubrum (red maple), Phellodendron amurense (male cvs.), Quercus alba (white oak)
Phellodendron japonica (excluding male cultivars)
Japanese corktree
RAcer rubrum (red maple), Phellodendron amurense (male cvs.), Quercus alba (white oak)
Phragmites australis
Common reed
RErianthus ravennae (Plume grass)
Pistia stratiotes
Water lettuce
RNo ornamental alternative
Poa compressa
Canada bluegrass
IUsed in pastures and lawns, not used ornamentally
Poa pratensis
Kentucky bluegrass
IUsed in pastures and lawns, not used ornamentally
Polygonum cuspidatum = P. japonicum
Japanese knotweed
RActaea racemosa (black cohosh), Aruncus dioicus (goatsbeard), Polygonatum spp.(Solomon's seal), Smilacina racemosa (false Solomon's seal), Tricyrtis spp.(toad lily)
Polygonum sachalinense
Giant knotweed
R(see P. cuspidatum)
Populus alba
White poplar
PTilia americana (American linden or basswood)
Portulaca oleracea
Purslane
RAurinia saxatilis (basket-of-gold), selected Sedum spp. & cvs. (stonecrop)
Potamogeton crispus
Curlyleaf pondweed
RNot used ornamentally
Potentilla argentea
Silver cinquefoil
RChrysogonum virginianum (green and gold)
Prunus mahaleb
Mahaleb cherry
PCrataegus spp. (hawthorn species), Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Pueraria montana =P. lobata
Kudzu vine
RNot used ornamentally
Pyrus calleryana
Callery pear
RChionanthus virginicus (fringetree), Crataegus spp. (hawthorn species), Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Ranunculus ficaria
Lesser celendine
RAsarum canadense (wild ginger), Jeffersonia diphylla (twinleaf)  
Rhamnus cathartica
Common buckthorn
RAlnus rugosa (speckled alder), Carpinus caroliniana (American hornbeam), Corylus americana (American filbert), Thuja occidentalis (American arborvitae) and Thuja plicata (giant arborvitae)
Rhamnus frangula
Glossy buckthorn
RAlnus rugosa (speckled alder), Carpinus caroliniana (American hornbeam), Corylus americana (American filbert), Thuja occidentalis (American arborvitae) and Thuja plicata (giant arborvitae)
Robinia pseudoacacia
Black locust
RCatalpa speciosa (Northern catalpa), Gleditsia triacanthos (honeylocust)
Rorippa sylvestris
Creeping yellow-cress
RAurinia saxatilis (basket-of-gold), selected Sedum ssp. & cvs. (stonecrop)
Rosa multiflora
Japanese rose
R (check rootstocks)Rosa spp. & cvs. (hardy shrub roses)
Rumex acetosella
Garden sorrel
RBeta vulgaris 'Bright Lights'(Swiss chard) Solenostemon scutellarioides (coleus)
Salvinia molesta and S.minima
Water fern
RNot used ornamentally
Saponaria officinalis
Bouncing bet
RLiatris spp. (blazing star), Monarda spp. (bee balm), Phlox spp. (phlox), Salvia spp. (sage), Thalictrum spp. (meadowrue), Veronica spp. (speedwell)
Setaria faberi
Japanese bristlegrass
RNot used ornamentally
Sonchus arvensis
Field sow thistle
RCoreopsis spp. (coreopsis); Helianthus spp. (sunflower)
Sorghum halapense
Johnson grass
RNot used ornamentally
Stachys balansae
No common name
RFailed plant evaluation. Stachys byzantina (lamb’s ears) or other Stachys spp.
Symphytum asperum
Prickly comfrey
RMertensia virginica (bluebells)
Thalictrum buschianum
No common name
RFailed plant evaluation. Thalictrum aquilegiifolium (meadow rue) or T. flavum (yellow meadow rue)
Trapa natans
European water chestnut
RNot used ornamentally
Typha angustifolia
Narrow leaf cattail
RTypha latifolia
Ulmus pumila
Siberian elm
RDutch-resistant cvs. of Ulmus americana (American elm)
Valeriana officinalis
Common valerian
R(See E. sphaerocephalus)
Verbascum thapsus
Flannel mullein
RDigitalis spp. (foxglove)
Veronica gentianoides
Gentian speedwell
R(failed plant evaluation), Veronicastrum virginicum (Culvers root), Veronica spicata (spike speedwell)
Viburnum opulus
European cranberrybush viburnum
R species
E cultivars
Viburnum dentatum cvs. (arrowwood viburnum), Viburnum trilobum (American cranberrybush viburnum)
Vinca minor
Common periwinkle
E, IAsarum spp. (ginger)
Vincetoxicum nigrum
Black swallowwort
RMatelea spp. (climbing milkweed)
Vincetoxicum rossicum
Swallowwort
RMatelea spp. (climbing milkweed)

Watch List

These species are not currently posing a serious invasive risk in the Chicago area, but may do so in the future, particularly as the climate changes. We are watching and monitoring for signs of invasiveness.

Scientific Name
Common Name
Plan

Alternatives

Akebia quinataWClematis spp. (clematis), Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper), Passiflora incarnata (Passionflower)
Buddleja davidiiWAesculus parviflora (Bottlebrush buckeye), Amorpha canescens (leadplant), Sambucus nigra (elderberry)
Calamagrostis brachytricha WSchizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem), Sorghastrum nutans (Indian grass)
Elaeagnus angustifoliaWAesculus parviflora (bottlebrush buckeye), Aronia melanocarpa (black chokeberry), Corylus americana (American filbert), Ilex verticillata (winterberry holly), Aronia melanocarpa (chokeberry
Gypsophila paniculata WEuphorbia corollata (flowering spurge)
Houttuynia cordata WAlchemilla mollis (lady's mantle), Asarum spp. (ginger), Chrysogonum virginianum (green and gold)
Pennisetum alopecuroides WSchizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem), Sorghastrum nutans (Indian grass)
Quercus acutissima WQuercus shumardii (Shumard’s oak), Quercus coccinea (Scarlet oak), Quercus velutina (Black oak)
Ranunculus lingua WCaltha palustris (Marsh marigold)
Spiraea japonica WClethra spp. (summersweet), Hydrangea spp. (hydrangea), native Spiraea (spirea), Ceanothus americanus (New Jersey tea)
Syringa reticulata WClethra spp. (summersweet), Hydrangea spp. (hydrangea), Phyocarpus opulifolius (ninebark).
Tamarix ramosissima and other Tamarix spp.WAmelanchier spp. and cvs. (serviceberry), Calycanthus floridus (Carolina allspice), Diervilla spp. (bush honeysuckle), Lindera benzoin (spicebush), Viburnum dentatum (arrow-wood viburnum), Aesculus parviflora (bottlebrush buckeye)
Verbina bonariensis WLiatris spp. (blazing star), Monarda spp. (beebalm), Phlox spp. (phlox), Salvia spp. (sage), Thalictrum spp. (meadowrue), Veronica spp. (speedwell)
Wisteria sinensis WClematis spp. (clematis), Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper), Passiflora incarnata (Passionflower), Wisteria frutescens (American wisteria)