Updates to State Regulations and Resources on Invasive Plants

There are two exciting updates on the state level relating to invasive plants: a new regulation preventing the spread of noxious weeds and a comprehensive list of invasive plants in Virginia.

Noxious Weed Law

The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) added several invasive species to be regulated under the Virginia Noxious Weeds Law. The new regulation also called for the creation of a Noxious Weeds Advisory Committee for the purpose of assisting VDACS in the evaluation and risk-assessment of plants that may be declared noxious weeds in Virginia.

The new regulation establishes two tiers of noxious weeds. Here are the specifics from the new law:

Tier 1: Any noxious weed that is not native to the Commonwealth that (i) has no known populations present in the Commonwealth or (ii) is not widely disseminated in the Commonwealth and for which successful eradication or suppression is likely.

The following plants are hereby declared Tier 1 noxious weeds:

  1. Vitex rotundifolia, Beach vitex.
  2. Salvinia molesta, Giant salvinia.
  3. Solanum viarum, Tropical soda apple.
  4. Heracleum mantegazzianum, Giant hogweed.
  5. Oplismenus hirtellus spp. undulatifolius, Wavyleaf basketgrass.

Tier 2: Any noxious weed that (i) is not native to the Commonwealth, (ii) is not widely disseminated in the Commonwealth and (iii) for which successful suppression is feasible but eradication is unlikely (3 species).

The following plants are hereby declared Tier 2 noxious weeds:

  1. Imperata cylindrica, Cogon grass.
  2. Lythrum salicaria, Purple loosestrife.
  3. Ipomoea aquatica, Water spinach.

For more information about the new Noxious Weed Law, click here.

Virginia Invasive Species List

9The second updated resource on invasive plants is the new Virginia Invasive Species List.  This list is put out by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation’s (DCR) Natural Heritage Program. Although this list has no regulatory authority, it is a great resource for homeowners and land managers alike. This list ranks various species to reflect the level of threat to forests and other natural communities and native species. DCR’s list was put together using a risk-assessment protocol to determine an invasiveness rank for each species listed, from high to low threat. Another good thing about this list is that it separates out three Virginia ecoregions, included mountain, coastal and piedmont. Certain species, such as beach vitex, have shown to be problematic in coastal areas, but not here in Arlington.

The updated Invasive Plant Species List also includes species that may not be widespread in Virginia but are known to problematic in similar environments. These species are listed under the “early-detection” species. Although Arlington County has been working with nearby jurisdictions to manage these species before they become established, it is great to have a statewide perspective of new invasive plants that we should keep an eye out for.