Invasive Plants

The Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission’s (ANHC) System of Natural Areas provides a landscape where biodiversity can flourish. However, invasive plant species are one of the major threats to our ability to maintain biodiversity on our natural areas.

Did you know? Quick Facts About Invasive Species:

  • Invasive plants can be native or non-native to an ecosystem.
  • Non-native invasive species are plants artificially introduced to an area.
  • Native invasive species are native plants that grow in an area that is not their natural habitat, choking out plants that would normally grow there.
  • Invasive plants flourish without the predators, parasites, diseases and competitors of their native range.
  • Invasive species alter habitats and displace native species, driving some rare species toward extinction.
  • Dependent on native plants for food and shelter, many native animals have trouble adjusting their specialized diets to the new plants, causing populations of some animals to decline.

infestation of Japanese stiltgrass
An infestation of Japanese stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum) along a small stream. Accidentally introduced from packing material shipped in crates from Asia, Japanese stiltgrass has spread throughout the eastern U.S. where it displaces native woodland plants. Photo by Chuck Klimas.

Why Should You Care About Invasive Species? Because they:Japanese stiltgrass

  • limit future use of public and private lands
  • impact the health and regeneration of forests
  • create an increased risk of flooding and soil erosion
  • impede navigation in waterways and lower water quality
  • decrease food availability and impact habitat quality for native wildlife

autumn olive
Once widely planted as an ornamental and "wildlife plant", autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata) has spread widely throughout the state. Photo by Chuck Klimas.

alligatorweed
Alligatorweed (Alternanthera philoxeroides) can take over marsh habitat, displacing native species.

You can find more information (including a free mobile app download) at these websites:

Nonnative Invasive Plants of Southern Forests:
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Free Mobile App

Alien Plant Invaders of Natural Areas

Invasive Plant Fact Sheets

Click here for a list of some of the invasive plant species found in Arkansas. 

Silktree or mimosa
Silktree or mimosa (Albizia julibrissin) has spread throughout the state from ornamental plantings. It is especially common along stream banks. Photo by Chuck Klimas.