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NATURAL HERITAGE

Virginia Invasive Plant Species List

The Virginia Invasive Plant Species List comprises species that are established - or may become established - in Virginia, cause economic and ecological harm, and present ongoing management issues.

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 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 ecosystem processes, such as hydrology or fire regime.
  • Are capable of invading undisturbed natural communities.
  • Cause substantial impacts on rare or vulnerable species or natural communities or high-quality examples of more common communities.
  • Are found widely distributed and generally abundant where present.
  • Disperse readily to new areas.
  • Are difficult to 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, this list does not include the many ruderal, or 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 established in Virginia but known to be highly 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 management goal for early detection species is eradication, as preventing the establishment of newly arrived species will save valuable natural and economic resources.

Early detection species will be listed until control efforts have failed, permanent establishment has been achieved and eradication is no longer feasible. Even species that have been successfully eradicated remain on the early detection list to maintain vigilance.

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

Kevin Heffernan
Stewardship Biologist
Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation
804-786-9112
kevin.heffernan@dcr.virginia.gov