This information is provided for documentation purposes only. The current Prohibited Plant List can be found here .

Invasive Plant Phase Out: MDAR Response to Public Comment (September 2005)

The response to the proposed phase out of invasive plants was overwhelmingly positive, with very few respondents expressing outright objection to the proposal. However, several issues and concerns were raised which the Department feels warrant change to the proposal. In addition, there were some comments that do not warrant changes to the proposal, but deserve a response and explanation.

The purpose of this document is to:

  1. Explain changes made to the ban/phase-out made in response to comments.
  2. Provide response to prevalent or important comments.

Issue: The proposed ban on imports of listed species as of January 1, 2006, would not take effect until December 2005. However, retail outlets often place orders for nursery stock in the autumn for spring delivery and sale. The proposed timeline poses a conflict for nurseries that have ordered plants before the phase-out is finalized and comes into effect.

Response: MDAR appreciates this conflict and will extend the import deadline until July 1, 2006, for those listed plants that are prevalent in the nursery trade. The deadline is extended for the following species:

  • Acer pseudoplatanus - Sycamore maple
  • Acer platanoides - Norway maple
  • Berberis thunbergii - Japanese barberry
  • Euonymus alatus - Winged euonymus, burning bush
  • Iris pseudacorus - yellow iris
  • Lonicera japonica - Japanese honeysuckle
  • Lonicera maackii - Amur honeysuckle
  • Lonicera morrowii - Morrow's honeysuckle
  • Lonicera tatarica - Tatarian honeysuckle
  • Lonicera x bella [morrowii x tatarica] - Bell's honeysuckle
  • Miscanthus sacchariflorus - Plume grass, amur silvergrass
  • Myosotis scorpioides - Forget-me-not
  • Aegopodium podagraria* - Bishop's goutweed, Bishop's weed, Goutweed
  • Lysimachia nummularia* - Creeping Jenny, moneywort

   * represents change to original proposal - see below

Individuals who import species that are not listed above, and who have placed orders for listed plants above should call 617-626-1771, if they choose to request consideration for an extension, which may be granted by permit. Consideration will be given on a case-by-case basis. Consideration will not be given to those species on the USDA Federal Noxious Weed List.

Issue: The nursery industry has requested that two additional species, Aegopodium podagraria and Lysimachia nummularia, be scheduled for phase-out rather than immediate ban.

Response: These species are not prevalent in the industry. The impact of the ban would be minimal. However, as it could also be argued that the impact of these plants could likewise be minimal, the Department will add them to the list of those species that can be brought into the state until July 1, 2006, and existing stock sold for three years afterwards.

Issue: A fair number of those who commented suggested that cultivars of listed species that are not invasive should not be banned from sale or production in Massachusetts.

Response: MDAR agrees that cultivars that are not invasive should be allowed to be sold and cultivated. However, there are two significant challenges in determining what cultivars are not invasive:

  1. There is currently no set of protocols by which to evaluate the lack of invasiveness of a particular cultivar.
  2. The processes by which cultivars are identified and labeled in the marketplace is not managed sufficiently to ensure that plants that are labeled as a particular cultivar are indeed that cultivar.

MDAR is willing to work with the industry, and in particular ANLA and MNLA to address the shortcomings. Once adequately addressed, MDAR is willing to allow non-invasive cultivars via permit. Until this time, all cultivars of listed species are subject to the provision of the phase-out and ban as proposed.

Note: Many plants may be known by various names. This ban affects the plant species regardless of the various names they might be called or known by, sold or marketed under, within or without the state. Accordingly, cultivars of this plant, regardless of their names, are also deemed "invasive" and banned.

Issue: Some concern was expressed regarding the status of hybrid plants where one of the donor species is a listed species.

Response: Hybrids will be treated similarly to cultivars. Where either donor species is listed, the hybrid will be considered as listed until evidence is proven that it is not problematic.

Issue: A very small number of respondents did not feel that their interests were represented on MIPAG, the group to which MDAR looked to determine those species that are invasive in Massachusetts.

Response MDAR contends that MIPAG adequately represents the interest of those with a concern or issue with invasive plants or the management of them. Membership represented arboretums, farmers, the nursery industry, land trusts and government. In addition, MDAR is aware that members of MIPAG, and in particular industry members, made significant efforts to inform the communities that they represented of the efforts of the MIPAG, and to solicit comment from these communities.

Issue: A number of individuals stated that in their experience they did not believe that several species listed were invasive. These comments were most often associated with species popular in landscaping and gardening, most notably burning bush and Japanese barberry.

Response: The Department relies on the MA Invasive Plant Advisory Group (MIPAG) for guidance on which plant species are invasive in Massachusetts. As opposed to the anecdotal observations offered by commenters, MIPAG based its determinations of invasiveness on scientific evidence and consensus. Please note the following:

  1. MIPAG members come from diverse areas with interest and expertise in plants including industry, academia, government and environmental groups. The criteria developed by MIPAG represents a consensus of numerous experts with widely varying perspectives and interests in invasive plants.
  2. MIPAG bases its decision on confirmed data. All species listed as "invasive" have been confirmed to exist in Massachusetts outside cultivation, and in areas and numbers determined by MIPAG protocols to be indicative of invasiveness.

Issue: A number of respondents stated they saw no value banning or phasing-out several species listed, as they are tropical or semi-tropical species and could not thrive in Massachusetts.

Response: The species listed by MIPAG have been found to occur outside cultivation in Massachusetts. Other than MIPAG listed species, those species proposed by MDAR are taken from the USDA Federal Noxious Weed List. The Federal Noxious Weed List is not region specific, but includes species that USDA determines are problematic in at least one area of the United States, including warmer climes. Under federal law, it is illegal to bring federal noxious weeds into the US or to transport these species across state lines. None of these species is native to Massachusetts. MDAR believes there is utility in listing these species as being prohibited by the Commonwealth as this prohibition compliments existing federal requirements.

Issue: one nursery grower who has a retail operation in MA and a production facility in a neighboring state approached MDAR. This business has agreed to a phase-out period with the neighboring state, which conflicts with MDAR's phase-out/import prohibition. The MA phase-out would cause significant disruption of this operation.

Response: Where the MA phase-out/ban would cause significant economic loss to an individual business, MDAR will consider granting extensions via permit, to phase out periods/ban where:

  • The party can demonstrate potential economic loss is a significant portion of the operation's sales;
  • There is an existing, binding phase-out agreement for the production of the listed specie(s);
  • The plan precludes any additional listed species to the inventory of the production facility after the MA phase-out deadline.

Parties wishing to be considered for such an extension should call 617-626-1771.

Issue: A number of respondents did not appear to understand the scope of this action. For instance, a number of individuals questioned whether existing, private plantings of the listed species would be subject to removal. Such questions came primarily from the general public rather than those involved in the plant industry.

Response: MDAR will publish a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) bulletin on the MDAR web page. This will be designed for a lay audience in order that it may be easily produced by nurseries or others in response to questions concerning this action.