The Big Bad Plants: Kansas Invasive Transformers

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have frequently been frustrated by the dearth of good information regarding locally invasive plants. Attempts to find a comprehensive list for Kansas have been met with failure after failure until I found the document entitled “Coefficients of Conservativism for Kansas Vascular Plants (2021).” This has it all – every plant in Kansas, complete with native and non-native species and a ranking of the invasiveness of each non-native species (along with a whole lot more). But it’s not super user-friendly for someone who just wants to know which baddies to avoid – which is why I’ve pulled out just the worst of the non-natives here: the invasive transformers.

Invasive transformers produce offspring far from their parent plants and they also dominate and transform the natural spaces that they invade. They “can change the character, condition, form or nature of ecosystems over a substantial area relative to extent of ecosystem.” (Brian Obermeyer, quoted from here)

These are the biggest, baddest guys on Kansas’s block. If you’ve got them on your property, you should get rid of them posthaste (I tell myself as I sigh – I’ve got my work cut out for me since we have at least five species of these guys on our lot!)

When available, I have linked to the description of the plant on Mike Haddock’s incredibly helpful Kansas Wildflowers and Grasses website. Otherwise, links are to a variety of sites where information on the plant can be found.

Invasive transformer multiflora rose sprawling under our one intact stand of mature American elm

Herbaceous weeds


Latin Name
Common NameNotes
Alliaria petiolatacommon garlic mustard
Carduus nutansmusk-thistleThis is a category C noxious weed in Kansas, which means it is well-established throughout the state and has a control program in place
Centaurea solstitialisyellow star-thistle
Cirsium arvenseCanadian thistleThis is a category B noxious weed in Kansas, which means it is well-established in parts of the state and has a control program in place
Convolvulus arvensisfield bindweedThis is a category C noxious weed in Kansas, which means it is well-established throughout the state and has a control program in place
Dipsacus fullonumfuller’s teaselThis is a county option noxious weed in Elk, Franklin, Greenwood, Linn, and Woodson counties and has a control program in place
Dipsacus laciniatuscut-leaf teaselThis is a county option noxious weed in Elk, Franklin, Linn, and Woodson counties and has a control program in place
Lespedeza cuneatasericea bush-cloverThis is a category C noxious weed in Kansas, which means it is well-established throughout the state.
Lythrum salicariapurple loosestrifeKansas has a quarantine forbidding bringing this species into the state or propogating it within the state
Securigera variacommon crown-vetch

Grassy Weeds

Fields of invasive-transformer smooth brome. We are currently working on eradicating brome from our prairie restoration site.

Latin Name
Common NameNotes
Bothriochloa bladhiiCaucasian bluestemThis is a county option noxious weed in Greenwood county
Bothriochloa ischaemum var. songaricaKeng Turkestan bluestem
Bromus inermissmooth brome
Bromus japonicusJapanese brome
Bromus tectorumdowny brome

Bushes and Trees

Invasive transformer Callery pear in the middle of our prairie restoration site.
Latin NameCommon NameNotes
Elaeagnus angustifoliaRussian olive
Elaeagnus umbellataautumn-olive
Lonicera japonicaJapanese honeysuckleThe Kansas Forestry Service has provided information on controlling Asian bush honeysuckles
Lonicera maackiiAmur honeysuckleThe Kansas Forestry Service has provided information on controlling Asian bush honeysuckles
Lonicera tataricaTartarian honeysuckleThe Kansas Forestry Service has provided information on controlling Asian bush honeysuckles
Pyrus calleryanaBradford pear or Callery pearThe Kansas Forestry Service has information regarding controlling Callery pear; the Dyck Arboretum blog also details the problems with Callery pear
Rhamnus catharticacommon buckthorn
Rosa multifloramultiflora rose
Tamarix parviflorasmall-flower tamariskKansas has a quarantine forbidding bringing this species into the state or propogating it within the state
Tamarix ramosissimasalt-cedarKansas has a quarantine forbidding bringing this species into the state or propogating it within the state
This Russian olive survived the tornado, even as all three sheds around it (and the Siberian Elm and Eastern Red Cedar behind it) were destroyed

Aquatic Plants

Latin NameCommon NameNotes
Hydrilla verticillataRoyle hydrilla
Lythrum salicariapurple loosestrifeKansas has a quarantine forbidding bringing this species into the state or propagating it within the state
Myriophyllum spicatumEurasian water-milfoil

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