Understanding the dangers of invasive plant species

April 11, 2023


April is Earth Month, and AES Indiana is highlighting environmental awareness and tree safety around electric utility lines. As a longtime partner, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful (KIB) is joining AES Indiana in sharing educational opportunities this month.

KIB sees a beautiful Indianapolis that is loved, cared for and ecologically rich. Our AES Indiana Project GreenSpace, Community Forestry Program and habitat restoration initiatives all work toward that vision and towards a more biodiverse Indianapolis. Trees and plants in the landscape are a valuable natural resource, but not every plant that can be found in our landscape is always beneficial. Plants native to Indiana are the backbone of our ecosystems and play a crucial role in the food web. These plants are beneficial and important to conserve. However, many of the plants and trees that often cause conflict with power lines and limit access can be invasive species.

Invasive plant species are non-native plants that have been introduced to our landscape and cause environmental harm, economic harm, or harm to human health. These plants lack the relationships with native flora and fauna that help keep our ecosystems in balance and are therefore able to outcompete Indiana’s native plant communities. This environmental disruption leads to habitat and biodiversity loss, but it also costs Hoosiers millions of dollars every year. According to a 2012 survey, nearly $6 million is spent each year in Indiana to manage invasive species.

In 2019, the Terrestrial Plant Rule went into effect, banning the sale, distribution, and introduction of 44 different invasive plant species in Indiana. This rule was an important step in managing invasive plant species throughout Indiana, but there is still work we can all do together to take proactive steps to help solve this problem. Here are some easy ways you can help reduce the spread of invasive plants:

  • Assess your yard for invasive plant species and remove any you find. A helpful guide to identifying and managing invasive plant species listed on the Terrestrial Plant Rule can be found here.
  • Many invasive plants have been introduced through cultivation and are commonly found as components of a landscape. If you find any of these in your own landscape, here is a guide for native replacements that will fulfill a similar function in your garden.
  • When selecting plants to include in your landscape, choose plants that are native to Indiana. These plants are beautiful, reflect Indiana’s natural heritage, and require significantly less maintenance once established than many traditional landscape plants. By including native plants in your yard, you will also be supporting life that depends on them to survive! The Indiana Native Plant Society has a helpful directory for finding where native plants are sold.
  • Volunteer and get involved! Keep Indianapolis Beautiful works throughout Indianapolis to help manage invasive species and restore habitat along our waterways. KIB hosts monthly Weed Wrangles to remove invasive species from May through October. Sign up to volunteer today!

Learn more about invasive species in Indiana and other ways to get involved throughout the state with Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas (CISMAs). They can even provide technical assistance and expertise to landowners through resources like invasive species property surveys, management plans, and more.