Invasive Species

Explore why invasive plants are a concern in the St. Louis region and learn what you can do to help address them. 

Invasive Plants 101

Are All Exotic Species Invasive?

No, only a small portion of exotic plants ever escape cultivation, and only a small portion of those that escape ever become truly invasive. Many exotic plants, including virtually all major agricultural crops, are important for our economy, culture, and nutrition. However, the small percentage of exotic plants that do become invasive can have devastating consequences for the environment.

Even though most non-native plants used for landscaping are not invasive, exotic plants provide far fewer resources for native wildlife such as butterflies and pollinators compared to native plants.

You may have the impression that the fruits of exotic landscaping shrubs are good for birds and other wildlife. However, many of the worst invasive shrubs in the United States, such as bush honeysuckle, produce fruits with poor nutritional value compared to the native shrubs that are displaced by their invasion. When birds eat these fruits they disperse them widely, promoting invasion with negative consequences for our natural areas and the wildlife that depend upon native plants.

Why Should You Care?

What Can You Do To Help?

Learn to identify invasive plant species in our region (see Species List below) and how to distinguish them from any native species that are similar in appearance.

Avoid using invasive plants in your garden. Until you are able to get rid of invasive plants in your yard, be responsible and remember to remove and destroy seeds of invasive plants to prevent their dispersal into natural areas. Don’t share invasives with other gardeners.  Ask your local nursery not to sell invasive plants and to provide native alternatives.

Don’t plant invasive plants for wildlife. Native species provide much better food and cover for native wildlife.

Volunteer to help remove invasive species in local parks and natural areas.

Pass it on! Tell your friends and family about the threat from invasive species.

Invasive Species in the St. Louis Region