Backyard Invasives

They may look innocent in your backyard, but invasive plants and animals can pose a serious environmental threat.

Once used widely in gardening, landscaping and erosion control, non-native plants like those pictured here can be found in yards, along roadsides and in business lots across the country. Free from natural restraints, accidentally introduced invasive plants, pests and diseases can establish themselves in new areas and eventually supplant native species.

You can help! Click on each of the pictures to learn what you can do to fight invasives and preserve the species native to your region.

Asian Longhorned Beetle

This wood-boring insect has infested and killed thousands of trees in New York City, Chicago, Ohio and Toronto.

If the Asian longhorned beetle became established across the country, it could kill 30 percent of all urban trees, destroy the maple syrup industry and damage the spectacular fall foliage displays of the Midwest and East Coast.

Learn how to identify Asian longhorned beetles and prevent their spread.

Emerald Ash Borer

The emerald ash borer has caused the death of approximately 60 million ash trees in just over a decade. First discovered in Michigan in 2002, it has spread to more than 25 states and Canadian provinces.

Adult emerald ash borers eat ash leaves, but don't do as much damage as the larvae, which eat the inner bark. The destruction of the bark eventually kills the trees.

See more photos and learn about emerald ash borers.

Giant Salvinia

This aquatic plant can completely cover waterways, making boating and fishing nearly impossible.

A native of Brazil, giant salvinia was probably introduced as an ornamental plant for ponds and aquariums and can be spread attached to boats. It can double its numbers in as few as 2 days!

Learn more about how to remove this plant and what to do if you find it.


A familiar site in the southern U.S., kudzu was introduced by farmers hoping to slow soil erosion.

The plant can grow at an astonishing rate of up to one foot per day and is very difficult to control.

Learn more about kudzu and about alternative native vines and ground covers.

Multiflora Rose

Introduced from Japan in the 19th century, multiflora rose damages pastures by creating dense thickets.

Learn more about multiflora rose and native alternatives.

Purple Loosestrife

Brought to New England as an ornamental, purple loosestrife has tiny seeds that spread rapidly in wind or water. Stands grow to thousands of acres and cost millions to remove each year.

Learn more about purple loosestrife and native alternatives.

Tree of Heaven

Also called Chinese sumac, tree of heaven is invasive throughout most of the U.S. It can outcompete native species and also produces toxins that can kill other plants. It's roots grow so aggressively that they can damage sewage pipes, pavements and building founsations.

Find out how to prevent the spread of tree of heaven.

Fighting Backyard Invasives

Learn more about the threat of invasives and how the Conservancy is working to limit their impact.


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