Invasive species, such as Asian bush honeysuckle or Canada thistle, are classified as those that have a competitive advantage over natives because they can grow rapidly, reproduce quickly, and adapt easily to a variety of habitat conditions.
Invasive species are capable of dominating a landscape because their natural predators and control mechanisms are absent. Often, these species are not endemic to Indiana, but rather introduced from different countries and regions.
How can you identify a species as invasive and non-native?
Use the USDA National Invasive Species Information Center website as a starting point to read about specific threats to Indiana and access numerous informative links.
INPAWS has a lot of useful and interesting information on both native and invasive plant species, as well as links to further resources.
Also take a glance at Purdue's CAPS program where you can select your pest, habitat, or county to learn more about species that could be problematic. Are any of your plants on the "Most Unwanted" invasive plant species list?
DNR also lists invasive species that you may encounter in Indiana, with information on what to do if you think you spot an invasive plant or animal.
Giant hogweed is an invasive plant currently growing in northern areas of the country. The primary spread is in the Northwest in Washington and Oregon, and the Northeast in the New England area. In the Midwest, this plant has taken root in Michigan and Illinois and has recently been spotted in northern Indiana. Giant hogweed is especially dangerous due to the sap coating the entire plant. If the sap makes contact with skin or eyes, and is then exposed to any kind of UV light or moisture, it reacts in a way that inhibits our protection from UV light. What this means is that if an affected area is exposed to sunlight, skin can be severely burned and eyes can be blinded.
Currently giant hogweed has only been found in two counties in northern Indiana. There are a number of other members of the carrot family which look very similar and can cause similar, but more mild photosensitive reactions. If you believe you've come across a giant hogweed plant, call the Indiana Department of Natural Resources at
1-866 NO EXOTIC (1-866-663-9684) or email them at depp@dnr.IN.gov to have experts take care of removal. Some of these plants require teams in hazmat suits to dispose of them safely, so DO NOT HANDLE ONE.
A brief word about invasive exotic plants
Though sometimes attractive, non-native plants that are introduced into the Hoosier environment pose a threat to established plant life. Some exotics can grow exponentially, crowding out native plant life. This rapid growth in turn disturbs the natural food chain for wildlife in our state.
Reed Canarygrass, Phalaris arundinacea
Crown Vetch, Securigera vera
Asian Bush Honeysuckles:
Lonicera maackii, L. morrowii, L. tartarica, L. x bella
Invasive Plant Treatment Resources
The Midwest Invasive Plant Network's Plant Control Database is an excellent resource for finding specific management methods for any invasives you may find in your yard.
If you have invasive plants and aren't sure how to remove them without harming other wildlife, use this list to contact the nearest Invasive Plant Removal Contractor.