Invasive Plant List

Invasiveness depends on your location

Plants may be invasive in some regions of California, and not invasive in others. This map shows you the California regions used by our list. The plants listed below are invasive in one or more regions as shown on this map.

How are these regions determined?

The regions shown on this map are based on the Sunset Climate Zones, which are determined by an area’s rainfall, temperature range, wind, humidity, and length of growing season.

These are the Sunset Climate Zones which correspond with each region:

  • Sierra and Coastal Mountains: Sunset Zones 1-3
  • Central Valley: Sunset Zones 7-9
  • Desert: Sunset Zones 10-13
  • North and Central Coast: Sunset Zones 14-17
  • South Coast: Sunset Zones 18-24

Printable List

The list is also available in PDF format for printing.

Map of California regions

Priority Invasive Garden Plants & Alternatives

Mouse over or touch a photo to see a recommended alternative plant. Below each plant are links to more information about that plant, including suggestions for beautiful, non-invasive replacements. If you aren’t looking for an alternative for a specific invasive plant, see this page that compiles all of our current non-invasive alternatives.

DO NOT PLANT

pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana)
Photo by Flickr user Arthur Chapman
Invasive in: CV NC SC
pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana)

TRY THIS INSTEAD!

Photo by Flickr user JKehoe_Photos
deer grass (Muhlenbergia rigens)
More details and alternatives

DO NOT PLANT

Green fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum)
Invasive in: SM DT NC SC
green fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum)

TRY THIS INSTEAD!

Photo by Stephanie Falzone
Mendocino reed grass (Calamagrostis foliosa)
More details and alternatives

DO NOT PLANT

Photo by Flickr user magnolia1000
Invasive in: SM CV DT NC SC
Mexican feathergrass (Stipa/Nassella tenuissima)

TRY THIS INSTEAD!

Photo by Pete Veilleux, East Bay Wilds
alkali sacaton (Sporobolus airoides)
More details and alternatives

DO NOT PLANT

Highway iceplant (Carpobrotis edulis)
Photo by KQED Quest
Invasive in: NC SC
highway iceplant (Carpobrotus edulis)

TRY THIS INSTEAD!

Beach strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis)
Photo by Don Loarie
beach strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis)
More details and alternatives

DO NOT PLANT

Big-leaf periwinkle (Vinca major) close up flower
Photo by Flickr user Ken Lund
Invasive in: SM CV DT NC SC
periwinkle (Vinca major)

TRY THIS INSTEAD!

Photo by Stephanie Falzone
ground morning glory (Convolvulus mauritanicus)
More details and alternatives

DO NOT PLANT

Yellow flag iris (Iris pseudacorus) for sale at a nursery
Photo by Flickr user Rita Willaert
Invasive in: CV NC SC
yellow flag iris (Iris pseudacorus)

TRY THIS INSTEAD!

Iris ensata var. ensata. Photo by Flickr user Tanaka Juuyoh
Japanese iris (Iris ensata spp.)
More details and alternatives

DO NOT PLANT

Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) close up with flowers
Eichhornia crassipes (Photo by Andreas Kay)
Invasive in: CV NC SC
water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes)

TRY THIS INSTEAD!

Cape pondweed (Aponogeton distachyos)
Photo by J.F. Gaffard
Cape pondweed (Aponogeton distachyos)
More details and alternatives

Key to California Regions

SMSierra & Coastal Mountains
CVCentral Valley
DTDesert
NCNorth & Central Coast
SCSouth Coast

Plants to Watch

Many plants we consider for the list of invasive list meet some but not all of the invasive list criteria. These are the plants we refer to as “Plants to Watch.” We provide more details about these plants, why they aren’t on the plant list, and if there are places in California where this plant should be avoided.

See the plants to watch