Close up of the non-native, invasive groundcover, wintercreeper (euonymus fortunei). 
Photo courtesy of USDA.
Close up of the non-native, invasive groundcover, wintercreeper (euonymus fortunei). Photo courtesy of USDA.
Invasive plant species impact Indiana in various ways, including loss of biodiversity, degradation of natural habitats, decreased property values, declining agricultural yields, negative impacts on public utilities, recreation and tourism. Indiana landowners and managers spend more than $8.6 million annually managing invasive species in Indiana.
Beginning April 18, 2020, the Indiana Terrestrial Plant Rule (312 IAC 18-3-25) will make it illegal to sell, gift, barter, exchange, distribute, transport or introduce in Indiana any of 44 invasive pest plant species without a permit. The rule was signed by Governor Holcomb and published March 18th, 2019 but enforcement was delayed for one year in order to give Indiana's plant nursery industry time to rid its stock of invasive plants. Over the past year, state officials have been educating 350 growers, 3,500 nursery dealers, and the public about these soon to be illegal plants. As the regulatory agency, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Division of Entomology and Plant Pathology (DEEP) has authority to issue a $500 fine per violating incident per day once it becomes enforceable. While it will be illegal to transport or gift these 44 plants among private property owners, it will not be illegal to have these species on your property. However, you are encouraged to work to remove these species from your property.
Only 22 of the 44 listed plants are commonly sold in the nursery trade. Examples of these include Amur honeysuckle, Asian bittersweet, blunt-leaved privet, autumn olive, common buckthorn, Japanese barberry, Japanese honeysuckle, and wintercreeper. All the species in the rule were assessed and ranked as highly invasive through a scientific and transparent system by the Invasive Plant Advisory Committee (IPAC). IPAC is a team of experts comprised of representatives from horticulture, landscape, nursery, research, conservation, Purdue Agriculture, and other universities. Callery pear and Norway maple trees are two species that were ranked high on the official list but were not included in the final rule because the state determined that their inclusion would cause too great of a monetary impact to growers of these species. These trees and other highly invasive species such as winged burning bush could be added to the rule through an amendment process in the coming years. In the meantime, the Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) and Hamilton County Invasives Partnership (HIP) encourage you to avoid purchasing or planting these species.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why is the rule necessary? Impacts of invasive species include: loss of biodiversity; degradation of natural habitats; negative effects on property values; decreased agricultural yields; negative impacts on public utilities; recreation, and tourism. Indiana landowners and managers spend greater than $8.6 million dollars annually to manage invasive plants in Indiana.
How were the 44 species determined to be invasive? Species included in the terrestrial plant rule were assessed through a scientific and transparent system by a team of experts that included representatives from horticulture, landscape, nursery, research, conservation, and Purdue Agriculture. Links to assessments are available from the Official Indiana Invasive Plant list at: https://www.entm.purdue.edu/iisc/invasiveplants.html
Why aren’t all the invasive plants on the Official Indiana Invasive Plant list in this rule? The rule includes plants ranked high on the official list, except for Callery pear and Norway maple. These two species were not included in the rule because the State determined that including them would cause too great of an impact to growers of those species.
Are all 44 species sold for landscaping? No, DEPP reported about 22 of the 44 regulated species are sold in trade; however, this rule also prohibits the sharing, transport, and exchange of all species listed.
May I purchase a species online? Not legally.
May I share a species with friend or family? Not legally.
What if I have one of the 44 species growing on my property – is it illegal? No, but you cannot share it, transport it, exchange it, etc.
What is the punishment for violating the rule? DEPP has authority to issue a $500 fine per incident per day.
Will other species be added to the rule? As plant species are assessed, those ranked high will proceed through the rule amendment process for potential inclusion in the future.
Are these Noxious Weeds? No. Noxious Weeds are a different regulatory category and include Canada thistle, bur cucumber, Johnson grass, shattercane, and Columbus grass.
More information about the Terrestrial Plant Rule including the full list of prohibited species, links to the individual invasive plant assessments, and information about identifying and managing invasive species on your property can be found on the Hamilton County Invasives Partnership website (www.hcinvasives.org).
For additional information on invasive species in and around Hamilton County, contact the Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District by visiting www.hamltonswcd.org.