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Virginia Invasive Plant Species List

Invasive plants are species intentionally or accidentally introduced by human activity into a region in which they did not evolve and cause harm to natural resources, economic activity or humans.

The list is for educational purposes only and has no regulatory authority.

To be included on the list, there must be demonstrable evidence that a species poses a threat to Virginia’s forests, marshes, wetlands and waterways.  

Invasiveness ranks (I-ranks) reflect the level of threat to forests and other natural communities and native species. I-ranks used on the list are high, medium and low.

High Species poses a significant threat to native species, natural communities or the economy.

Medium Species poses a moderate threat to native species, natural communities or the economy.

Low Species poses a low threat to native species, natural communities or the economy.

Invasiveness rank increases for species that:

  • Alter natural processes, such as water flow or soil chemistry.
  • Invade undisturbed natural areas.
  • Cause substantial impacts on rare or vulnerable native species or natural areas.
  • Are found widely distributed and generally abundant where present.
  • Disperse readily to new places.
  • Require significant resources to manage and control.

DCR's Invasive Species Assessment Protocol was used to conduct a risk assessment for each listed species. The protocol ranks species as exhibiting high, medium or low levels of invasiveness. Following NatureServe methodology, this ranking is known as the "Invasiveness rank," or "I-rank." Generally, the invasive plant list does not include the many weedy species that primarily grow in highly disturbed sites, including farmlands, but do not impact natural areas such as forests and marshes. However, as species adapt and change behavior, their rankings may change as new information becomes available.

A subcategory of the Virginia Invasive Plant Species List includes the Virginia Invasive Plant Early Detection Species. These are species not yet widely established in Virginia but are known to be invasive in habitats similar to those found here. If discovered in Virginia, these species need to be quickly mapped, photographed and reported to DCR. The primary management goal for early detection species is eradication, as preventing the establishment of newly arrived species will save valuable natural and economic resources.

For more information or to report early detection species, contact:

Kevin Heffernan
Stewardship Biologist
Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation