Regulating Invasive Plants in Massachusetts
The Prohibited Plant List currently includes approximately 145 non-native species. Managed by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), the associated regulations prohibit the production, sale, transport, or exchange of these plants. These rules first took effect on January 1, 2006, with a phase-in period until January 2009 for a few species still in nursery production. Sixty-nine of the current listed species were recommended for inclusion on the list by MIPAG, after being evaluated for invasiveness using detailed scientific criteria. The remaining listed species are federally designated noxious weeds, governed by regulations that apply throughout the United States.
- The Massachusetts Invasive Plant Advisory Group (MIPAG) was formed in 1995 as concern over invasive plants was rapidly growing. It includes representatives from both federal and state governments, private land trusts and conservation organizations, the nursery and landscaping industries, the scientific community, and academia. Working as a collaborative body and seeking consensus as much as possible, MIPAG's original recommendations for designating invasive plant species were made to the appropriate state agencies in 2005. Periodically the committee recommends the addition of new species to the list, subject to MDAR approval.
- Noxious Weeds are federally designated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as species that can damage crops (including nursery stock or plant products), livestock, natural resources, the public health, or the environment. It is illegal to import such plants to new areas or to transport them across state lines. Fortunately, many of these designated species are not yet found in Massachusetts.
Know Your Plants!
If you don't know it, don't grow it. Get to know the plants you garden with. Find out if they are native or non-native. Learn about their history and growing characteristics. Emphasize natives in your planting for the health of our common ecosystem. And if you decide to plant a non-native, be sure it isn’t already classified as invasive, or suspected of becoming invasive. You will love the results—more songbirds, butterflies, and lots of beauty all around.