Posted in Foraging, homestead, Horticulture, Mapleberry Gardens

Our Invasive and Non-Native Plant Species (A Running Catalog)

Note: I’ll occasionally update this blog post with new photos and information.

Non-native plant species are simply plants that originate in a different region than the region in which they are currently growing. Non-native plants aren’t always a problem but sometimes they become invasive. Invasive, non-native plant species become a problem when their growth goes unchecked and they begin negatively impacting the health and prosperity of the native plant life (and the native fauna, by extension). Examples of our most concerning invasive plants are Autumn Olive, Garlic Mustard, and Multiflora Rose.

Non-native plants that establish sustainable, viable populations are said be “naturalized.” Plants can be naturalized but not invasive if their presence doesn’t negatively impact native wildlife. We have numerous naturalized species and many of them provide good foraging opportunities for humans and animals. Examples of naturalized plants that occur on our property include Chicory and Queen Anne’s Lace.


Highly Invasive, Non-Native Herbaceous Plants:

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is native to Europe and highly invasive here because it’s prolific and there are very few animals that effectively forage on it. It tastes and smells like garlic and is enjoyed by humans in salads, etc. A single plant can produce hundreds of seeds that remain viable for years. They are easily pulled from the ground but you must dispose of them properly. I pulled hundreds of these flowering garlic mustard plants in early spring and heaped them next to my compost pile. Wouldn’t you know.. a week later, the dried up pile of plants was continuing to produce flowers and even going to seed. That persistent pile of weeds ended up in the fire instead.

Garlic mustard is being enjoyed by spotted lady beetles. (5/4/2017)


Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) is native to Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. When it is bursting with purple flowers in late July, it is easily spotted in moist ditches and meadows, marshes, and alongside lakes. They are known to affect wetland habitat by quickly crowding out native cattails and forming a mono-culture that fails to support the same diversity of life. Using biological control methods can be problematic but it has shown success with purple loosestrife. The same beetles that control purple loosestrife populations in their native ranges were in introduced to Michigan in 1994. There is good evidence to show that these beetles specifically target purple loosestrife while leaving native plants unharmed (Blossey et al. 1994).

Purple Loosestrife blooming (7/25/2017)


Moderately Invasive, Non-Native Herbaceous Plants:

White Sweet Clover (Melilotus alba) is native to Europe and Asia. It can be easily pulled but it can’t be destroyed with fire. It must be disposed of in the trash.

White sweet clover in bloom. (7/25/2017)


Crown Vetch (Securigera varia) is native to Africa, Asia, and Europe. Eradicating this plant is not easy.

Crown Vetch (Securigera varia) can become a thigh-high mass of beautiful flowers.
Crown Vetch grows among my wild raspberries.
I don’t hate the crown vetch. It’s a good place to watch the bees.


Ginger likes exploring the crown vetch for rabbits.

Highly Invasive, Non-Native Trees and Shrubs:

Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata) is native to Asia.

Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata) produces “autumn berries” that are fine to eat.
Autumn Olive flowers smell really good.



Multiflora Rose or Japanese Rose (Rosa multiflora) is native to Asia and invasive here. They produce large clusters of edible rose hips that have seeds that persist in the soil seed bank for decades. In the grey dead of winter, its bright red rose hips aren’t an unwelcome sight. However, the large recurved spines will destroy you as you attempt to eradicate it.

Multiflora Rose flowers
Multflora Rose is blooming on 6/3/2017
Multiflora rose hips in February are an edible consolation prize.



Honeysuckle We have non-native honeysuckle of both the pink and white variety here. The berries they produce are enjoyed by my chickens.



Non-Native, Naturalized Herbaceous Plants of least concern:

Ox-eye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare) is native to Europe and Asia. I collect these to use as cut flowers in the house. According to some random website, the unopened buds (like the one at the bottom center of the photograph) can be “marinated like capers.” I’ll try it next season.
A neat looking fly visits the ox-eye daisies. 
Valentina stops to question whether it’s even worth it to try and trudge any further through all these ox-eye daisies
A spittlebug uses a daisy bloom to cover itself in froth while it sucks sap
Yellow Salsify aka Yellow Goatsbeard (Tragopogon dubius) is native to Europe and Asia. It’s a non-native weed that isn’t considered a huge problem. The taproot is edible.
Chicory (Cichorium intybus) is native to Europe and naturalized here. The taproot is dried and used for a coffee additive.
Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota) is native to Europe and Asia.
Bladder Campion (Silene vulgaris) is native to Europe.
Sulfur Cinquefoil (Potentilla recta) is native to Europe.




Blossey, B., Schroeder, D., Hight, S.D., and Malecki, R.A. (1994) Host specificity and environmental impact of two leaf beetles (Galerucella calmariensis and G. pusilla) for biological control of purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria). Weed Sci., 42: 134-140.


Environmental biologist and wannabe homesteader.

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