Keep a Lookout for Unwanted Invasive Plants

Visitors to Michigan State Parks are invited to report invasive plants found in Michigan State Parks and Recreation Areas as part of an early detection and rapid response initiative to find and control unwanted invasive plants that are just beginning to invade. With many visitors looking, the very first invading plants can be found and reported so that rapid control can prevent widespread establishment. Early detection and rapid response of invasive species is the most effective control method.

Invasive Plants

What is an invasive plant?
Invasive plants are typically non-native, rapidly reproducing species which threaten the integrity of natural areas. Once established in an area, invasive species can have devastating effects. Finding and treating invasive plants as soon as they appear saves time and money on future efforts.



How are they harmful?
Invasive species change ecosystems in fundamental ways. Invasive plants out compete native plants and limit the number of plant species that grow in an area. Not only are native plants lost but native insects, birds and other wildlife that were dependent on the native plants for survival are lost as well. Without a balanced food-web of native plants and animals, natural communities are altered, increasing the likelihood of negative impacts such as soil erosion and sedimentation. Even forest regeneration may be compromised. Once the natural community has been disturbed, many recreational activities, such as bird watching, biking, hiking and hunting, are compromised as well.

Black Swallow-Wort What should you look for?

Japanese knotweed is a tall shrub with large leaves and small white flowers. It causes soil erosion in rivers, lakes and other wetland habitats, but can be harmful to upland sites as well. Knotweed can be very difficult to control.

Oriental bittersweet is a vine that can grow 60 feet tall in trees! The vine chokes the host tree and takes sunlight from shorter plants. Its bright green/yellow leaves are easily spotted in the fall after most native plants lose their leaves.

Swallow-wort, also known as dog-strangle vine, quickly grows over native plants nearby. It is part of the milkweed family and attracts monarch butterflies to lay their eggs on it's leaves. The caterpillars have a very low success rate on swallow-wort.

Garlic mustard is a candidate for early detection and rapid response in the northern Lower and Upper Peninsulas of Michigan. Garlic mustard impacts forest regeneration by shading-out young tree saplings.

Lyme grass and babys breath are a problem along Michigan's coastal dunes. They spread rapidly and threaten this unique Great Lakes habitat, which is home to many rare and special-concern species.

How can you help with early detection?

1. Report possible sightings in a state park by filling out the Unwanted Plants Detection Card . You can mail or email it to the addresses below.
2. You can also mark the location of detected plants on a park visitor map, or take their GPS coordinates. Mail or fax the park map or GPS coordinates with the detection card (from above).
3. Report sightings online at

Prevent the spread of invasive plants by cleaning your boots, clothes and other equipment before entering or leaving a park!

Garlic Mustard

Our Rapid Response
After reports are received, treatment areas will be prioritized and responded to by DNR staff. The State Park Stewardship Unit employs AmeriCorps crews , hires contractors and hosts volunteer workdays to lessen the impacts of invasive plants, while restoring the natural habitat in high quality areas within state parks.



Alicia Ihken
DNR - Parks and Recreation Division
PO Box 30257
Lansing, MI 48909
fax: 517-373-8588