Why Identify Invasive, Non-Native Species?

Many introduced plants have become naturalized in North Carolina. Some of these have become invasive, replacing our native plant species. Our native fauna, including insects, birds, mammals, reptiles, fish and other animals, are dependent on native plants for food and shelter. Native plant loss due to the spread of invasive non-native plants poses a serious disruption to natural ecosystems in North Carolina and around the world.
It is so important to educate the public, nurseries, and resource managers to recognize invasive, non-native plant species and to understand their detrimental impact on our environment. With education and awareness of these invasive, non-native plant species, we hope to encourage early detection so that a rapid response can be implemented to control them, manage existing infestations, prevent accidental introductions, help to discontinue their use in landscaping and restoration projects, and minimize disturbance to forests, wetlands, and other natural communities. We must learn to work with (rather than against) natural systems and cycles.
Please note that NCNPS considers all the species on the invasive list—including the so-called “sterile hybrids” of those species—to be invasive. Many supposedly sterile hybrids have proven, through cross-pollination and other means, to be able to produce fruit and spread. In addition, no non-native plant ever provides the full ecological benefit that native plants offer. When you plant a native plant, you support an entire community of native organisms.

Invasive, Non-Native Plant Species Lists

Rank 1 - Severe Threat
Exotic plant species that have invasive characteristics and spread readily into native plant communities, displacing native vegetation.

Scientific Name

Common Name

Ailanthus altissima

Tree of Heaven, Copal Tree

Albizia julibrissin

Mimosa, Silk Tree

Alliaria petiolata

Garlic Mustard, Hedge Garlic

Alternanthera philoxeroides


Celastrus orbiculatus

Oriental Bittersweet

Elaeagnus angustifolia 

Russian Olive, Oleaster

Elaeagnus umbellata

Autumn Olive, Oriental Silverleaf

Hedera helix  

English Ivy, Common Ivy

Hydrilla verticillata


Lespedeza bicolor

Bicolor Lespedeza, Shrubby Lespedeza

Lespedeza cuneata

Sericea Lespedeza, Chinese Lespedeza

Ligustrum sinense

Chinese Privet, “Privy Hedge”

Lonicera fragrantíssima

Sweet-breath-of-spring, Fragrant Honeysuckle

Lonicera japonica

Japanese Honeysuckle

Microstegium vimineum

Japanese Stilt-grass

Murdannia keisak

Mud-annie, Marsh Dewflower

Myriophyllum aquaticum


Paulownia tomentosa

Princess Tree, Empress Tree

Persicaria perfoliata

Mile-a-minute Vine

Phragmites australis   

Common Reed, Old World Reed

Pyrus calleryana

Bradford Pear, Callery Pear

Reynoutria japonica

[= Polygonum cuspidatum, Fallopia japonica]

Japanese Knotweed, Japanese Bamboo

Pueraria montana var. lobata


Rosa multiflora

Multiflora Rose

Salvinia molesta

Giant Salvinia, Kariba Weed

Vitex rotundifolia

Beach Vitex, Roundleaf Chaste-tree

Wisteria sinensis

Chinese Wisteria

Rank 2 - Significant Threat
Exotic plant species that display some invasive characteristics, but do not appear to present as great a threat to native communities in NC as the species listed in Rank 1.

Scientific Name

Common Name

Ampelopsis glandulosa

[= Ampelopsis brevipedunculata]

Porcelain-berry, Amur Peppervine

Arthraxon hispidus var. hispidus

Basket Grass

Bambusa spp.

Exotic Bamboo

Berberis thunbergii

Japanese Barberry

Broussonetia papyrifera

Paper Mulberry

Cardiospermum haliacacabum

Balloon Vine, Heartseed

Causonis japonica [= Cayratia japonica]

Bushkiller, Sorrel Vine

Centaurea stoebe ssp. micranthos

[= Centaurea biebersteinii]

Spotted Knapweed

Citrus trifoliata [= Poncirus trifoliata]  

Hardy Orange, Trifoliate Orange

Clematis terniflora

[= Clematis dioscoreifolia]

Sweet Autumn Clematis

Conium maculatum


Dioscorea polystachya [= Dioscorea oppositifolia]

Chinese Yam, Cinnamon Vine

Egeria densa   

Brazilian Elodea, Brazilian Waterweed

Elaeagnus pungens

Thorny-olive, Autumn Silverberry

Euonymus alatus

Burning Bush, Winged Euonymus

Euonymus fortunei

Wintercreeper, Chinese Spindle-tree

Ficaria verna [= Ranunculus ficaria]

Lesser Celandine

Glechoma hederacea

Gill-over-the-ground, Ground-ivy

Humulus japonicus

Japanese Hops

Lamium purpureum

Purple Archangel, Purple Dead-nettle

Ligustrum japonicum   

Japanese Privet

Ligustrum vulgare

Common Privet

Lonicera maackii

Amur Honeysuckle

Lonicera morrowii

Morrow’s Honeysuckle

Lonicera standishii

Standish’s Honeysuckle

Lonicera xbella [Lonicera tatarica x morrowii

Pretty Honeysuckle

Lygodium japonicum   

Japanese Climbing Fern

Lythrum salicaria

Purple Loosestrife

Mahonia bealei

Leatherleaf Mahonia, Chinese Mahonia

Miscanthus sinensis

Chinese Silver Grass, Eulalia

Morus alba

White Mulberry

Myriophyllum spicatum

Eurasian Water-milfoil

Nandina domestica

Nandina, Sacred-bamboo

Oshuna crassipes [= Eichhornia crassipes]

Water Hyacinth

Persicaria longiseta [= Polygonum caespitosum]

Longbristle Smartweed

Persicaria maculosa [= Polygonum persicaria

Lady’s-thumb, Heart’s-ease

Phyllostachys spp.

Exotic Bamboo

Pseudosasa japonica

Arrow Bamboo

Reynoutria sachalinensis [= Fallopia sachalinensis, Polygonum sachalinense]

Giant Knotweed, Sachaline

Rhodotypos scandens


Rubus phoenicolasius

Wineberry, Wine Raspberry

Securigera varia [= Coronilla varia]   


Sorghum halapense

Johnson Grass

Spiraea japonica

Japanese Spiraea

Stellaria media

Common Chickweed

Veronica hederifolia

Ivyleaf Speedwell

Vinca major

Greater Periwinkle

Vinca minor

Common Periwinkle, Myrtle

Wisteria floribunda

Japanese Wisteria

Xanthium strumarium


Youngia japonica

Asiatic Hawk’s-beard, Youngia

Rank 3 - Lesser Threat
Exotic plant species that spread into or around disturbed areas and are presently considered a low threat to native plant communities in NC.
*Baccharis halimifolia is native to marshes and marsh borders on the outer Coastal Plain but has spread along road corridors to invade disturbed areas in the Piedmont, which is not considered its native habitat.

Scientific Name

Common Name

Ajuga reptans

Carpet Bugle, Bugleweed

Allium vineale

Field Garlic, Onion-grass

Artemisia vulgaris

Common Mugwort, Wormwood

Arundo donax

Giant Reed

Baccharis halimifolia *

Silverling, High-tide Bush, Groundsel Tree

Bromus catharticus

Rescue Grass, Bromegrass

Bromus commutatus

Meadow Brome, Hairy Chess

Bromus japonicus

Japanese Brome, Japanese Chess

Bromus secalinus

Cheat, Common Chess, Rye-brome

Bromus tectorum

Cheatgrass, Downy Brome, Downy Chess

Buddleja davidii [= Buddleia davidii]

Summer-lilac, Orange-eye Butterfly-bush

Cichorium intybus

Chicory, Succory

Cirsium vulgare

Bull Thistle

Daucus carota

Queen-Anne’s-lace, Wild Carrot

Dipsacus fullonum    

Wild Teasel, Fuller’s Teasel

Fatoua villosa

Mulberry-weed, Crabweed

Ipomoea quamoclit


Kummerowia stipulacea

Korean Lespedeza, Korean-clover

Kummerowia striata

Japanese-clover, Common Lespedeza

Leucanthemum vulgare

[= Chrysanthemum leucanthemum]

Oxeye Daisy, White Daisy

Liriope muscari

Liriope, Big Blue Lilyturf

Lolium pratense [= Festuca pratensis]

Meadow Fescue

Lysimachia nummularia

Creeping Jenny, Creeping Charlie

Melilotus albus

White Melilot, White Sweetclover

Melilotus officinalis

Yellow Melilot, Yellow Sweetclover

Najas minor

Spinyleaf Naiad

Nasturtium officinale


Pastinaca sativa

Wild Parsnip

Perilla frutescens

Perilla, Beefsteak-plant

Populus alba

Silver Poplar, White Poplar

Senecio vulgaris


Setaria faberi

Nodding Foxtail-grass

Triadica sebifera

Chinese Tallow-tree, Popcorn Tree

Tussilago farfara


Vicia sativa

Garden Vetch

*Baccharis halimifolia is native to marshes and marsh borders on the outer Coastal Plain but has spread along road corridors to invade disturbed areas in the Piedmont, which is not considered its native habitat.
Watch List A
Exotic plant species that cause problems in adjacent states but have not yet been reported to cause problems in NC. At this time, more information is needed.

Scientific Name

Common Name

Arum italicum

Italian Arum, Lords-and-ladies

Buglossoides arvensis


Bupleurum rotundifolium

Hare’s-ear, Thoroughwax

Cyanus segetum [= Centaurea cyanus]  

Cornflower, Bachelor’s-buttons

Cyperus entreianus

Woodrush Flatsedge

Echium vulgare

Viper’s-bugloss, Blueweed

Hibiscus syriacus

Rose-of-Sharon, Althaea

Hypericum perforatum

European St. John’s-wort, Klamath-weed

Ornithogalum umbellatum

Star-of-Bethlehem, Nap-at-noon

Solanum dulcamara

Bittersweet, Climbing Nightshade

Verbascum thapsus

Woolly Mullein, Common Mullein

Watch List B
Exotic plant species that cause problems in adjacent states but have not yet been reported to cause problems in NC.

Scientific Name

Common Name

Acer platanoides

Norway Maple

Akebia quinata

Five-leaf Akebia, Chocolate-vine

Bromus inermis

Smooth Brome, Hungarian Brome

Carduus nutans

Nodding Thistle, Musk Thistle

Carex kobomugi

Sea Isle Sedge, Japanese Beach Sedge

Cirsium arvense

Canada Thistle, Field Thistle

Commelina benghalensis

Tropical Spiderwort, Bengal Dayaflower

Hesperis matronalis

Dame’s Rocket

Imperata cylindrica    


Iris pseudacorus

Water Flag, Yellow Flag

Lonicera tatarica

Tartarian Honeysuckle

Ludwigia grandiflora

[= Ludwigia grandiflora ssp. grandiflora]

Showy Water-primrose

Melia azedarach

Chinaberry, Pride-of-India

Nymphoides cristata

Crested Floating Heart, Water Snowflake

Pistia stratiotes

Water Lettuce

Potamogeton crispus

Curly Pondweed, Curled Pondweed

Quercus acutissima    

Sawtooth Oak

Rhamnus cathartica

Common Buckthorn, European Buckthorn

Setaria italica

Italian Millet, Foxtail-millet

Setaria verticillata

Hooked Bristlegrass, Bur-foxtail

Setaria viridis  

Green Millet, Green Bristlegrass

Stachys floridana

Florida Betony, Florida Hedge-nettle

Torilis helvética [= Torilis arvensis]

Spreading Bur-parsley, Field Hedge-parsley

Tragopogon dubius    

Goat’s-beard, Yellow Salsify

Trapa natans

European Water-chestnut, Water-caltrop

Tribulus terrestris

Puncture-weed, Caltrop

Xanthium spinosum

Spiny Cocklebur

Additional Resources

Downloadable List

Download and print a copy of the above invasive plant lists.

Gallery Search

Search our plant gallery database for invasive plants.

North Carolina Invasive Plant Council

On this website, access lists and information about invasive plants and noxious weeds. In addition, access the federal noxious weeds list.

NC State Extension

Learn more about invasive species and search an invasive plant list to find plants you should avoid introducing to your landscape.