Missouri Invasive Plant Council (MoIP) - to identify and control invasive plants


Missouri’s Glaciated Plains Top Expanding Invasive Plants, 2021

Northern Missouri’s Glaciated Plains Region is threatened by many invasive plants. Because of their vigorous expansion, the plants pictured below are particularly important to identify and control. Learning how to identify and remove uncontrolled plants from your property is the first step in protecting the vitality of Missouri’s natural and agricultural lands.

The Missouri Invasive Plant Council’s (MoIP) 2021 List of Expanding Invasive Plants for this region draws data from MoIP’s invasive plant assessment. This assessment was compiled and reviewed by experienced field biologists in Missouri. In addition to identifying invasive plant abundance and assessing the severity of the plants’ impact on natural communities, biologists estimated how rapidly the species’ ranges will expand to form new occurrences throughout Missouri’s Glaciated Plains ecological region over the next 10 years. The results follow here.

Because of their vigorous expansion, the species listed on the 2021 Top Invasive Plants Expanding in Missouri’s Glaciated Plains region are particularly important to identify and control. See below for links to resources on how to identify and control each plant.

  • Invasive: An aggressive, non-native species whose presence causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm
  • Expanding: These plants are the biggest threat in relation to expansion, as they continue to spread at a higher rate

Click to download the 2021 MoIP flier listing top 15 expanding invasive plants in Missouri’s Glaciated Plains region.

This assessment will be updated every several years based on additional and ongoing in-the-field observations and reviews.

1. Sericea lespedeza

Lespedeza cuneata

Representative photos of Sericea lespedeza:

2. Callery pear

Pyrus calleryana

Representative photos of Callery pear:

3. Himalayan blackberry

Rubus armeniacus

Representative photos of Himalayan blackberry:

4. Autumn olive

Elaeagnus umbellata

Representative photos of autumn olive:

5. Reed canary grass

Phalaris arundinacea

Representative photos of reed canary grass:

6. Garlic mustard

Alliaria petiolata

Representative photos of garlic mustard:

7. Invasive bush-honeysuckles

Lonicera spp.

Representative photos of invasive bush-honeysuckles:

8. Teasels

Dipsacus spp.

Representative photos of teasels:

9. Smooth brome

Bromus inermis

Representative photos of smooth brome:

10. Spotted knapweed

Centaurea stoebe subsp. micranthos

Representative photos of spotted knapweed:

11. Birdsfoot trefoil

Lotus corniculatus

Representative photos of birdsfoot trefoil:

12. Old-world bluestems

Bothriochloa spp.

Representative photos of old-world bluestems:

13. Tall fescue

Festuca arundinacea

Representative photos of Tall fescue:

14. Japanese hops

Humulus japonicus

Representative photos of Japanese hops:

15. Wintercreeper, climbing euonymus

Euonymus fortunei

Representative photos of wintercreeper:

Announcing Our 2021 Invasive Plant Action Award Winners

by MoIP

In 2019, the Missouri Invasive Plant Council (MoIP) established the Invasive Plant Action Award program to recognize the outstanding work being done in Missouri to control invasive plant species. The Action Awards celebrate exceptional effort and leadership in the field, and also serve as a way to demonstrate to the broader community how controlling the spread of invasive plants on Missouri farms, forests, woodlands, prairies, gardens, parks, neighborhoods, roadsides, and along waterways is very possible and very important land stewardship. Members of MoIP evaluate nominations and select winners yearly.

A big thank you to the Awards subgroup consisting of Carol Davit, Matt Arndt, Joe Alley, Malissa Briggler, Ann Koenig, Lauren Pile, and Bill Ruppert for their work on the awards program this year, and for selecting our 2021 winners.

The awards are split into four categories:

  1. Individual Citizen or Individual Organization
  2. Individual Professional
  3. Group Collaborators
  4. Researchers

Our 2021 MoIP Award Winners

Individual Organization: Watershed Conservation Corps

Awarded to a single entity that has demonstrated progress in reducing invasive plants over at least two years

Watershed Committee’s home base. Image credit: Watershed Conservation Corps website.

“A mission-driven program that hires teams of young people to complete projects tackling invasive plant management via grants and cooperative agreements with partners throughout the Ozarks.”

– nominator, Brendan Brothers

The Watershed Conservation Corps (WCC) is a pilot program of the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks. Based on the Youth Conservation Corps model, the WCC’s work focuses on invasive species removal and habitat restoration, while providing hands-on, environmental education opportunities for their crew members. The WCC is dedicated to engaging and employing young people, who can move forward into the field of conservation with “a passion for the work, a love of the environment, and knowledge they can share with their communities wherever they end up.” (Brendan Brothers)

The WCC’s first project was to restore the woodland, prairie, and glade habitats at Valley Water Mill Park in Springfield, Missouri. They have since gone on to form rewarding public and private partnerships: transforming the Bass Pro campus to 100% natives; removing invasives and restoring glades at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield and George Washington Carver National Monument; rebuilding trails in Mark Twain National Forest; and even managing invasive species for the City of Springfield and other municipalities. Since 2018, with the help of many partners, they have expanded into dozens of projects throughout the Ozarks, and doubled the size of the conservation crew.

Importantly, the WCC’s partnership with the National Park Service is growing. With the success of projects at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield and Buffalo National River, the WCC will be expanding its partnerships to work with all of the national parks in Arkansas, Missouri, and Kansas in 2022. This will create amazing opportunities for habitat restoration and for engaging and educating more young people in the fields of conservation and restoration.

Individual Professional – Linda Lehrbaum

Awarded to a natural resources professional who has demonstrated progress in reducing invasive plants over at least two years

“In the Kansas City Region, Linda Lehrbaum’s name is synonymous with outstanding land stewardship, including invasive plant removal.”

– nominator, Kathy Gates.

For the last 19 years, Linda Lehrbaum has been the program manager of the Kansas City WildLands (“KC WildLands” with Bridging the Gap), an organization focused on restoring and protecting remnant, or relatively undisturbed, prairies, glades, savannahs, and forests.

Linda’s tireless work has been the driving force behind this inspirational wildland restoration program, which now stewards over 450 acres of land in the Kansas City area, and just as importantly, has recruited and educated more than 650 local and loyal volunteers who contribute over 2,000 volunteer hours annually.

“You can’t talk about invasive species, natural areas, or volunteering in the Kansas City region without talking about Linda Lehrbaum. Since the formation of KC Wildlands, Linda has had the unique ability to take any novice volunteer and have them remove invasive species for a day and leave the site with a deep understanding of the natural history of the park site.”

– Matt Garrett, a Johnson County Park & Recreation District Field Biologist, in his support letter.

Linda organizes about 25 restoration work days annually but has also extended the reach of KC Wildlands by focusing on education and innovative public outreach. Linda began the Honeysuckle Academies, where public land managers, HOAs, and concerned citizens can learn about invasive species removal and land restoration. She runs the annual Cedar Tree Event (where the public can help remove invasive red cedars and take them home to decorate for the holidays!). Beyond eradication of invasives, Linda also involves KC WildLands volunteers, in restoration work, with her KC Wildlands Seed Team. These volunteers are trained to identify, collect, and process over 160 species of local eco-type seeds, which can then be planted in restorations on public lands. Linda’s ability to connect Kansas City conservation efforts with the Kansas City community is truly exemplary.

Earlier this year, Linda was featured in the Missouri Department of Conservation’s “Women in Conservation” exhibit in March. Beyond her work Managing KC WildLands, her exhaustive volunteer efforts (from the Missouri Stream Team #175, to the Kansas City Herpetological Society, to name a couple) make it clear how critically important she is to invasive species management and conservation of wild places in the Kansas City region. Linda’s leadership and tremendous educational efforts have benefitted not only hundreds of acres of wildlands, but also the lives of thousands of people.

Group Collaborators – Greenbelt Land Trust of Mid-Missouri

Awarded to a collaborative network working together to fight the spread of invasive plants in a particular geographic area

Photo submitted by Becky Erickson.

The mission of the Greenbelt Land Trust of Mid-Missouri is to conserve the streams, forests, grasslands, and farmlands that represent our distinctive landscape for present and future generations.

The Greenbelt Land Trust (GBLT) is a non-profit organization in Columbia that advocates for local land conservation through conservation easements, land donations, and providing stewardship of land trust properties. Their conservation work currently protects almost 700 acres, including four GBLT nature preserves and six private properties in Columbia.

A recent, large project exemplifies their outstanding work. In 2018, GBLT acquired 102 acres of forests, woodlands, a stream with cliffs, and prairie in northern Boone County (known as the Hundred Acre Woods Nature Preserve). The property included 40 acres of remnant prairie, but it had been degraded by woody invasives. Since then, GBLT has removed these invasives and reseeded 25 acres with locally collected native seeds. GBLT continues to clear invasives from the remaining 15 acres of the prairie to restore it, while continuing to protect the property’s many other natural amenities.

For nearly 30 years, the group has supported conservation with their vision of creating a network of “greenbelt” lands in and around Columbia. To meet these goals the GBLT has created a broad network of partners including the Alpine Shop of Columbia, Missouri Department of Conservation, the City of Columbia, Mid-Missouri Trout Unlimited, Poppy, Storage Mart, and PedNet Coalition. Their collaborative work with their partners and willing landowners has brought about multiple conservation easements and nature preserves. GBLT’s constant and outstanding efforts have led to exponential growth and awareness of conservation and invasive species control, making them, and their collaborative network, critically important in statewide conservation efforts.

“There are many individuals and groups carrying out impressive invasive species control in every part of the state,” says Carol Davit, chair of MoIP and executive director of the Missouri Prairie Foundation.

“MoIP recognizes those doing exemplary work via the Invasive Plant Action Awards program, and we especially enjoy honoring awardees by presenting awards at events of the awardees’ choosing, in front of their peers.”

By definition, invasive plants are those not native to a region whose abundance and/or rapid spread harm economic and environmental resources. For more information, please visit our MoIP Invasive Plant Action Awards page.

MoIP is a resource of the Grow Native! program and the Missouri Prairie Foundation.

We Value Your Input: Education Tools Survey

by MoIP

Complete the survey below (or click here to open in a new window) survey regarding educational tools to identify and control invasive plants. We have developed a statewide assessment of 142 invasive plants, a printable list of top 25 expanding invasive plants in Missouri, and a top 15 expanding invasive plants of the Glaciated Plains thus far and have plans for more in the future. Please answer the questions below to help MoIP help you.

Complete this survey by June 18th, 2021.

The Power of Partnerships: How Hard Work Plus Some Social Media Spread the Word about Invasive Callery Pear

by MoIP 0 Comments

On September 28, hard work on the part of Missouri Invasive Plant (MoIP) Task Force members culminated in a successful day. MU cut down a callery pear tree and became the first official signer of the MoIP Task Force Pledge to Stop the Spread of Invasive Species. You can read the whole story here.

In addition to the dozens of people attending the ceremony, MoIP, the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, and others helped spread the word online.

Here are the results of that concentrated effort, from MoIP’s social media accounts.


MU CAFNR kicked it off in real-time.

A few minutes later, Carol Davit’s photos made it onto Instagram.

This post reached 470 accounts and was seen 698 times.

An Instagram story serialized the morning via 6 photos, along with text about our mission. Instagram stories were seen 76-116 times depending on the individual story (views were enhanced by location tagging and hashtags).

One Instagram story prompted a private message from a flower grower working on a tree ordinance for the City of Springfield that’s looking to address some invasive species issues (especially with the Callery Pear). She wanted our moinvasives email address to discuss someone to talk to to make sure their work is in line with what we are doing.

In total, we made 1,216 impressions last week on Twitter.

And then Carol’s photos were on Twitter…

MU got in on the action with a Retweet:

Which earned 12,000+ impressions

Lately, average MoIP Twitter impressions range between 75 to 250, so this is huge.

And of course, Facebook had to get in on the action. This link to our blog post reached nearly 1,800 people, earned 99 engagements (clicks, likes, hearts) 9 shares, and 24 link clicks.

Mizzou Botanic Garden Cuts Down Pear Tree & Takes the Pledge to Stop the Spread of Invasive Plants

by MoIP 0 Comments
Mizzou Botanic Garden Cuts Down Pear Tree & Takes the Pledge to Stop the Spread of Invasive Plants

Mizzou Botanic Garden Cuts Down Pear Tree & Takes the Pledge to Stop the Spread of Invasive Plants

The Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force, a resource of the Grow Native! program, invites communities, campuses, businesses and other entities to follow Mizzou Botanic Garden’s example and take the pledge to control the spread invasive species on their property.

Jefferson City, MO (September 28, 2018)—This morning, the first of eight Callery pear trees on the Columbia campus of the University of Missouri was cut down—not by vandals, but by university officials. During the invasive plant awareness and educational event, officials not only removed the invasive, non-native tree, but also signed a pledge signaling the Mizzou Botanic Garden’s continued commitment to control other invasive plant species on campus. The remaining seven trees will be removed the week of Oct. 1, 2018.

            “These pear trees, located in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) courtyard, were planted in 1998 as part of the landscaping for the new Anheuser-Busch Natural Resources Building for their profusion of spring blossoms and brilliant fall foliage,” said Pete Millier, Director of Mizzou Botanic Garden, a designation for the campus. “Now, however, we know better,” said Millier, “and the Mizzou Botanic Garden is committed to stopping the spread of this pretty but highly invasive tree and other non-native invasive plants that threaten native biodiversity and are problematic for farmers and other landowners. We are proud to have taken this step, and to be the first entity in the state to have signed the Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force pledge to stop the spread of invasive species.” For more than two years, Mizzou Botanic Garden has carried out other invasive plant projects, including the removal of five Callery pear trees at the Memorial Union, replacing them with non-invasive trees, and the organization of a mass bush honeysuckle/winter creeper removal along a portion of Flat Branch Creek.

“Mizzou Botanic Garden is to be commended for publicly demonstrating its dedicated effort to stopping the spread of invasive plants,” said Carol Davit, Executive Director of the Missouri Prairie Foundation, the nonprofit conservation organization and land trust that operates the Grow Native! program, and serves as Chair of the program’s Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force (MoIP), a multi-disciplinary, multi-agency group working as a united front to foster greater statewide early detection and control of invasive plants. “We invite other educational institutions, corporate campuses, municipalities, neighborhood associations, and other entities to take the pledge as well to signal their commitment to joining the fight to control invasive plants and mitigate the serious threats they pose.”

MoIP Task Force members developed the pledge with a number of benefits in mind. First, it lets the stakeholders of a campus, business, community, or other entity who may be concerned with invasive plants on that property know that the entity, by taking the pledge, has committed to developing a plan and dedicating resources to the control of invasive plant species. Second, it helps stakeholders understand that controlling invasive plants on that property will take time. Additionally, when a community or other entity lets its stakeholders know it has signed the pledge, it provides an opportunity for stakeholders to get involved in the effort.

“Invasive plants are serious threats to Missouri’s native ecosystems, as well as many native plants and animals, the built environment, and many facets of the state’s economy, including cattle production, the timber industry, and many aspects of outdoor recreation, including fishing and hunting industries,” said Davit. “Missouri will control invasive species only with the concerted efforts of many entities, including private citizens working together. Our state is a long-time, nationwide leader in natural resource conservation, and by leading in invasive plant control as well, we can further safeguard Missouri’s habitats, fish, wildlife, and other cherished aspects of our natural heritage.”

            Entities wishing to sign the pledge may do so via a Google form available at www.moinvasives.org. The Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force (MoIP) can also provide a pledge document suitable for signing ceremonies and framing. Many resources on the identification and control of invasive plants, including native alternatives to invasive plants, are available from MoIP as well.

2nd Annual Invasive Species Day at Missouri State Fair 2018

by MoIP 0 Comments

The Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force (MoIP) had a great time at the MO State Fair on Friday, August 10! We were thrilled to be among other important organizations participating in last week’s invasive species collaboration/education event. Thank you to the steady stream of people who came to learn about invasive species causing economic or environmental harm in Missouri.

This Facebook Live video by MDC is a tad choppy, but it captures the essence of the collaboration!

Photos by Nate Muenks and Tina Casagrand:

MDC, MoDOT, Missouri Prairie Foundation collaborate on Invasive Species Strike Team

by MoIP 0 Comments
Click here to listen to the KRCU interview with MoIP vice-chair Nate Muenks.

Invasive weeds will no longer have “the right of way” for over 700 miles of southeast Missouri roads.

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), and the Missouri Prairie Foundation (MPF) have partnered to work with contractors to eliminate invasive plants along roadways from the top of Ste. Genevieve County, all the way to the southern border of Missouri. According to Nate Muenks, MDC’s habitat management coordinator, 723 miles of roadways will be spot treated for invasive plants, in a phased approach.

“MDC is thrilled to partner with MoDOT, MPF and the contractors to take this proactive approach against the threat of invasive plants,” Muenks said. “When invasive plants are left to thrive, they choke out native plants. The reduction in native plants can destroy valuable habitat and is very hard on our wildlife populations.”

Of the 723 miles of highway that will be spot treated for invasive plants, 165 miles are along Interstate 55. The other 558 miles are along roadways connecting to the Interstate, all near or in Conservation Opportunity Areas (COA). COAs are geographical areas where broad conservation goals are best met. MDC, with the help of conservation partners, identifies COAs throughout the state where investments in the prioritized areas can increase the likelihood of long-term success, maximize effectiveness over large landscapes, improve funding efficiency and promote cooperative efforts with other agencies for benefits that cross property lines.

Muenks said MDC, MoDOT, MPF and the contractors all see the value in working together to combat the prolific spread of invasive plants.

“Our roadways are a major traveling corridor, for not only public transportation but also in the spread of invasive weeds,” said Mark Aufdenberg, a MoDOT roadside manager. “It’s surprising how invasive seeds are spread through vehicle movement, so if we can treat our roadways and stop them before they go onto other properties and conservation areas, that’s a good thing.”

Aufdenberg said the cooperative project supplements MoDOT roadside management and allows MoDOT employees to focus more time on maintaining roadway surfaces and safety.

“Having the help from contractors and other agencies is a big benefit to us,” Aufdenberg said. “We don’t want to give invasive weeds the right of way.”

Aufdenberg said the contractors will not broadcast spray herbicides across the entire roadsides, but will instead spot-spray, targeting only the invasive plants.

“This targeted, specific approach will protect the good plants, while targeting the bad,” he said.

MPF agrees that the state’s roadways provide connectivity across the state, and not just for people. The MPF is a private, nonprofit, conservation organization with a mission to protect and restore prairies and other native grasslands, some of the most biologically diverse habitats in the state.

“We’re very concerned with the control of invasive species on the property we own and we’re very pleased to work in partnership with MDC, MoDOT and the other entities involved in this project,” said Carol Davit, MPF’s executive director. “Invasive plants pose real environmental and economic threats to our state, and collaboration is key in this fight.”

Davit said the project is also important because the work is happening in highly trafficked areas.

“Because this work is very visible along the roadways, we hope to inspire Missourians, and travelers in general, to be vigilant and take action against invasive plants on their own property as well,” Davit said.

Aufdenberg asks drivers in southeast Missouri to watch out for the contractors as they work along the roadways. Drivers will see large, orange, diamond shaped signs that say, “Invasive Plant Strike Team” where workers are spraying.

“Please slow down and give them some room as they work,” Aufdenberg said. “Safety is most important in our roadside projects.”

Muenks said MDC can help private landowners who want to eliminate invasive plants and improve wildlife habitat on their land. More information for landowners is available atwww.mdc.mo.gov/property.

Drivers will see work along 723 miles of roadways as Missouri’s cooperative Invasive Species Strike Team works to spot treat invasive plants. This proactive approach will protect the good plants while targeting the ones that don’t belong in the region. (MDC photo)

“Plant This, Not That!” Posters Now Available

“Plant This, Not That! Native Missouri Trees to Plant Instead of Invasive Callery/Bradford Pear” is an 11-poster set (title page + 10 species) inspired by the “Stop the Spread” campaign and designed by Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force. Now available in the following formats:

Why Not Callery Pear? Title Poster for “Plant This, Not That!” series