New website helps identify woody invasive plants in Michigan

Autumn olive is an invasive shrub identifiable by its leaves, which are bright green on top and silver underneath. Red berries with white speckles are visible in the fall. (Photo courtesy of Kathy Smith, Ohio State University Extension,

A new website can help you identify potentially invasive plants in your backyard in Michigan., developed by the Woody Invasives of the Great Lakes Collaborative, contains a wealth of information about how to distinguish woody invasive species from similar beneficial plants, an interactive map showing how these species are regulated by Great Lakes jurisdictions, detailed management approaches and noninvasive woody plant ideas for gardeners and landscape designers.

Across the eight Great Lakes states and Ontario, 28 woody plant species are regulated as invasive by at least one jurisdiction. Invasive species are those that are not native and can cause harm to the environment, economy or human health.

Woody plants, including trees, shrubs and vines, have strong stems with a bark layer. These stems persist through winter and releaf in the spring. Multiflora rose, black locust, Tatarian honeysuckle and glossy buckthorn are just some of the woody invasive species found in Michigan.

Invasive plants often share characteristics that make them difficult to manage, including early germination in open areas or disturbed soils, fast growth rates, rapid spreading and the ability to sprout new plants from cut stems or roots.

Many plants now considered invasive were imported to the U.S. for landscaping, erosion control or property barriers, long before the threat of invasiveness was understood. Now these plants pose a serious threat to natural areas in the Great Lakes region, outcompeting native plants and damaging wildlife habitat.

Species profiles on provide information on how each plant became established in the U.S., where they are likely to be found and what problems they cause to native habitats.

Profiles also include:

  • Identification information and photos.
  • Native look-alikes.
  • How and where species are regulated.
  • Recommended landscape alternatives.

The site also offers detailed information on control methods, along with explanations of where and when each method is most effective. Useful tips on long-term management and how to properly dispose of plant debris are also included.

The Woody Invasives of the Great Lakes Collaborative is one of several regional invasive species initiatives supported by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Related: Spotted lanternfly could be next invasive species in Michigan: What to know

About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital content and audience manager for WDIV / He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013. He enjoys suffering through Lions games on Sundays in the fall.