Learn About Invasive Species

Invasive Plant Species in Northern Michigan

Invasive Plants are becoming more and more of an issue in Northern Michigan and Little Traverse Conservancy would love your help in working to address this growing problem.

What is an invasive plant?

Invasive plants have the ability to out-compete the plants found in native habitats. Both non-native (exotic) and native plants can be invasive, but generally the ones we have trouble with are the non-natives. Because they evolved in a different part of the world, they lack the natural predators and diseases which would control them in their native habitats, and they are able to spread quickly and force out native plants. Invasive plants are usually characterized by fast growth rates, high fruit production, rapid vegetative spread, and efficient seed dispersal and germination. Recent research has shown that many invasives have higher photosynthetic capacities, which means that they are more efficient at capturing and utilizing sunlight.

Why should we be concerned about invasives?

Invasive plants, whether they are native or non-native, have the ability to take over native plant communities, forming monocultures and displacing native plants. Native plant diversity is important for wildlife habitat as many animals depend on a variety of native plants for food and cover.

Which invasive plants do we have in Little Traverse Conservancy’s service area?

These links will show you many of the invasives found in northern lower and northeastern upper Michigan:

A sample of common invasives in our region include:

Baby’s Breath (Gypsophila paniculata)

Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)

Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum)

Spotted knapweed (Centaurea biebersteinii)

Swamp thistle (Cirsium palustre)

Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum)

Leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula)

Shrubs and trees

Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii)

Common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica)

Glossy buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula)

Autumn olive (Eleaganus umbellata)

Multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora)

Winged Euonymus or burning bush (Euonymus alatus)

Shrub honeysuckles (Lonicera japonica, L. maackii, L. morrowii, L. tatarica, etc)

Norway maple (Acer platanoides)


Black swallow-wort (Cynanchum louiseae or Vincetoxicum nigrum)

Pale swallow-wort (Cynanchum rossicum or Vincetoxicum rossicum)

Asian bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus)


Common Reed (Phragmites australis)

There is also a native strain of Phragmites in our area!


Reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea)

Which invasive plants should we watch out for that aren’t here yet?

Link to MIPN’s New invasive plants of the midwest brochure for pictures of these plants:

Japanese hops


Mile-a-minute Weed

Chinese Yam

Tree of Heaven

Japanese Stilt Grass

Cut-leaved teasel

Flowering rush

Japanese hedge parsley

Ways that you can help

– Learn the plants by using the resources on this webpage

– Let us know when and where you see invasive plants


Midwest Invasive Plant Network

Ohio DNR 

Wisconsin DNR

Garlic Mustard Management

Giant Hogweed