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Plant Native Herbaceous Plants Instead of Invasive Species: A List of Both

Updated on October 27, 2011

Invasive Periwinkle


Herbaceous Plants List: Native and Non Native

The Baby's Breath plant, popularly used in many floral arrangements is not native to North America and is an invasive species. In fact, it has invaded New Brunswick to British Columbia, down south to Philadelphia, and to Oklahoma and California, according to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Does it matter whether we use native or non native plants?

Yes, non native plants/invasive species are destructive to our environment. The U.S. government defines an invasive species as one that is not a plant native to the ecosystem in consideration and introducing such a species can or is likely to be harmful to human health and also has an environmental and economic impact.

Native plants, in this case, herbaceous plants, occur naturally in a particular ecosystem. The herbaceous plant - or tree, shrub, vine, grass - originated there without human assistance.

Note: Plants growing in one part of North America may be considered invasive to another part. This is due to different weather patterns, elevations and soil types. Before purchasing herbaceous plants, check to see if it is native to your area.

How did invasive herbaceous shrubs get here?

It was no accident. Invasive plants have been brought here intentionally, according to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. In fact almost half of the most destructive invasive species now degrading natural habitats in the U.S. were introduced for horticultural purposes. Many invasive plants are still being sold for erosion control or simply for their beauty.

As far as erosion control, U.S. highway departments opted for invasive species to use as quick-growing ground covers, particularly on areas that are slopes.

What is the damage?

Invasive species often grow faster, taller and wider than native species - often creating shade. This, in turn, affects the nutrient cycle of native plants and can have a devastating effect on animals that depend on native plants.

In dollars and cents, damage is about $120 billion dollars per year. Furthermore, about 42 percent of our threatened species on the U.S. List of Endangered and Threatened Species are on the list because of the introduction of non native species - we are destroying their habitats. (See link below for how animals get on the list).

Invasive herbaceous plants are difficult to control and hard to eliminate. Many people are now complaining about the Purple Loosestrife, an herbaceous plant that has invaded most of North America. It is best to avoid using these plants.

Is there any way to easily tell if an herbaceous plant is native or non native/invasive?

Sometimes the name is a clue. For example, the Virginia Mountain Mint is native, but the Chinese Lespedeza is not.

Below is a list of native and non native herbaceous species that you can use as a guide and for reference.

Native Herbaceous Plants

California Fuchsia/Hummingbird Trumpet

Carolina Phlox

Kansas Gayfeather/Prairie Blazing Star

Oregon Box

Philadelphia Fleabane

Virginia Mountain Mint

More Native Herbaceous Plants in Alphabetical Order

Barren Strawberry

Blackfoot Daisy

Blue Flag Iris

Blue Vervain

Common Wood Aster


Culver's Root

Deer Vetch


Flowering Spurge


Golden Alexanders (attracts butterflies and swallowtails)

Green-and-Gold (although native, this plant is now rare in its native range - from Quebec down south to Florida and Louisiana)

Green Dragon

Hairy Angelica

Jacob's Ladder

Long-Bracted Wild Indigo

Mountain Goldenbanner

Mountain Hollyhock

Ocean Spray

Pickerel Weed

Prairie Cinquefoil

Prairie Flax (has a long, useful history for making fiber and oil, is used to make rope and linen cloth. Seeds are used to create linseed oil used to make paint)

Purple Prairie Clover (blooms attract butterflies and bees/is forage for wildlife)


Robin's Plantain

Rose Verbena

Roundheaded Bushclover

Showy Fleabane

Spreading Dogbane

Swamp Milkweed

Whorled Milkweed

Wild Quinine

Wild Sarsaparilla

Winter Fat

Winter Green/Partridgeberry

Non Native/Invasive Herbaceous Plants

Chinese Lespedeza

In Alphabetical Order

Baby's Breath

Bachelor's Button

Bird's Foot Trefoil (has invaded most of North America)

Chicory (has invaded most of North America)

Clovers - (all clovers except Purple Prairie Clover) invasive throughout North America

Crown Vetch

Dame's Rocket


Foxglove (also known as Digitalis purpurea - depending on the species the plant may be toxic. Native to western and southwestern Europe, northwestern Africa, and western and central Asia. The group of medicines derived from the foxglove plants are known as Digitalin)

Giant Knotweed (has invaded most of North America)

Ice Plant

Lesser Celedine


Ox-Eye Daisy (has invaded most of North America)

Periwinkle (see photo)


Potentilla (has invaded most of North America)

Purple Loosestrife (has invaded most of North America)

Queen-Ann's-Lace (has invaded most of North America)

Scentless Chamomile

Sweet Clover (has invaded most of North America, Puerto Rico and Hawaii)

Water Hyacinth

Yellow Flag Iris (has invaded most of North America)

For More Information about Native and Invasive Species Trees, Vines and Shrubs see the links below:


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    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      I know what you mean arusho - we live with so many plants that are not native, but they have been here for so long - who knew!

    • arusho profile image


      7 years ago from University Place, Wa.

      Good hub, I did not know that Foxglove wasn't native, I guess I've grown up with it for so long it seemed to fit right in to the Northwest landscape! Darn it anyway!

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Ah yes, the love of exotic plants. I'm glad you used that term, Xenonlit. I think that's what gets people, the term 'exotic' - it sounds so intriguing. If the term 'invasive species' was used most likely we'd stay away.

    • Xenonlit profile image


      7 years ago

      Thank you for carrying on with the message that alien species tend to have no natural predators and are wreaking havoc with our native plants. California is one state that has a real problem because people just love their exotic plants.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      I'm glad you found the hub informative prasetio30. Thanks for the vote!

    • prasetio30 profile image


      7 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Very informative hub. I learn much from you about various species of Herbaceous plants. Thanks for writing and share with us. Well done and vote up!


    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      For sure Nell Rose. Who would suspect that the very ones that are supposed to know better and protect our agriculture - like the USDA - would bring whatever they felt like here just because...Real smart.

      Thanks for writing!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      7 years ago from England

      Hi, I think a lot of people who introduce these plants probably don't realise the damage they can do, so this is a very useful hub, straight to the point, and very useful, cheers nell

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Thanks for commenting Hello, hello!

      True TheListLady - it is totally on all of us and not someone else to save us. I'm sure there are many more native and invasive species out there - we just have to do the research. Thanks for the rating.

      Good for your CountryCityWoman! I would love to live in a natural landscape - it just has to be beautiful when nature is in balance.

    • CountryCityWoman profile image


      7 years ago from From New York City to North Carolina

      In 2012 I plan to seriously start looking at places to retire to in NC. There has been so much flooding and mandatory evacs along the Eastern seaboard that it has made me so totally aware of our damaged environment - all the wrong plants, all the constant paving, all the excavating, throwing up condos in marshland etc. - I don't want to contribute to the problem. It's time to heal the land - so I must be knowledgeable when I go house/land hunting.

      Thanks for these great hubs which are a tremendous guide.

      Rated up!

    • TheListLady profile image


      7 years ago from New York City

      Yes, we just have to stop the madness. It's bad enough that we as people are viewed as nothing more than consumers - but there is nothing wrong with being an educated consumer and effecting change. I'm saving all these articles because I want to make sure I do nothing invasive. Our animals deserve it.

      Thanks a million and rated up.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      7 years ago from London, UK

      Nothing worse than an invasion plant whether native or not. lol Good hub with a lot of details. Well done

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      So true leann2800 - my daughter in law just emailed me to say she was going to plant foxglove but after reading the list decided not to. She was surprised about fennel.

      True with my neighbors Paradise7 - so many have planted English Ivy - I never did but it is here in my yard anyway, sigh!

      I wonder what cover plant you have Lita C. Malicdem. Some native plants do grow rapidly. We just don't need invasive ones to grow rapidly, damage native species and deprive animals of food and a safe haven.

    • Lita C. Malicdem profile image

      Lita C. Malicdem 

      7 years ago from Philippines

      I have a specie of a cover plant that is untameable. It sprawls fast. In fairness, because of its beauty and it serves my purpose of having cover plant, I make it a point that I cut off its sprawling vines and contain it where I want it to grow only. I might as well call this ornamental an invasive one? Thank you for introducing me to invasive vines.

    • Paradise7 profile image


      7 years ago from Upstate New York

      Excellent article. I've also seen people plant invasive species for ground cover and we ALL end up with a disaster on our hands.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Wow! I have seen people deliberately plant some of these and didn't realize they were invasive. I am glad I was actually late planting this year. Thanks for sharing.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      You're welcome Thelma Alberts. Thanks for commenting!

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 

      7 years ago from Germany and Philippines

      Very informative and useful hub. Thanks for sharing. Have a nice day.


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