Invasive Exotics

Invasive Exotics

What Is An Invasive Exotic Plant?

Invasive exotic plants are non-native species that have been introduced intentionally or accidentally and spread from landscaped areas, gardens and yards into natural areas. Without the wildlife, parasites and disease that control their growth in their native ranges, these plants grow aggressively and overtake our native vegetation. They aren’t “bad” plants, just plants out of place.

Download Invasive Exotic Plants: 8 Prohibited Plants in Reston (PDF)
Download Invasive Exotic Plants: From our Yards to our Forests (PDF)

Why Should You Be Concerned?

The spread of invasive exotic plants decreases biodiversity and harms the wildlife that depend on native plants for food and shelter. Many invasive exotics overtake native shrubs and trees that are a signature of the Reston community. They are expensive for homeowners to remove and for Reston Association to control in natural areas.

How Can I Manage Invasive Exotic Plants On My Property?

In addition to not installing new invasive exotic plants, you can help by removing existing ones and replacing them with native alternatives. Be sure to remove the roots because many invasive exotics can spread by roots or stems left on or in the ground. Please properly dispose of the debris by putting it into the trash. Do not compost it, and never dump yard waste into the natural areas. If you keep existing invasive exotic plants on your property, cut them from your trees and shrubs and do not let them spread to neighboring properties.

Where Are Invasive Exotic Plants Found?

  • Backyards and Gardens
  • Natural Areas and Parks
  • Roadsides and Wood Edges
  • Lakes, Ponds, Streams and Wetlands

These plants are opportunistic. Invasive plants can spread by seeds, roots, and other plant fragments, dispersed by wind, water, wildlife or human activity. They thrive in areas with disturbed soils and infragmented landscapes, like Reston’s natural areas.

Does RA Regulate The Use Of Invasive Exotic Plants?

On May 22, 2008, the RA Board of Directors adopted an invasive exotic plant resolution that applies to all private and cluster property subject to the Reston deed (see RA Use and Maintenance Standards for vegetation). The resolution prohibits the installation of eight commonly available landscape plants, known to have severe impacts on homeowner properties and Reston’s natural areas. The Guidelines for the Care and Use of Reston Association Natural Areas also prohibits the planting of any invasive exotic plant in Reston’s natural areas.


Look for announcements about the annual Virginia Invasive Plant Removal Day as well as our Monthly Habitat Heroes. Click here for volunteer information.

Please feel free to call us, at 703-437-7658 for assistance in finding an attractive, easy to care for alternative to any of the plants on our invasive exotic list.

Join Habitat Heroes

Habitat Heroes help combat the spread of invasive plants in Reston’s natural areas. Habitat Heroes meet the fourth Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. to noon. If you are interested in this worthy cause, please contact the RA community outreach specialist II at 703-435-7986

Learn More

Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantc Natural Areas:
On-line booklet from the National Park Service

Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping:
On-line booklet from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Virginia Native Plant Society

Plant Conservation Alliance 

Atlantic Exotic Pest Plant Council

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation

Mistaken Identity? Invasive Plants and their Native Look-alikes: an Identification Guide for the Mid-Atlantic

This publication is a full-color, 62-page booklet. The purpose of the work is to facilitate correct identification of confusingly similar invasive and native plant species. Targeted at land managers, gardeners, conservationists, and all others interested in plants, this booklet covers over 20 invasive species and their native look-alikes.

High quality 8meg file


The information in linked pages is not produced or monitored by Reston Association.  Reston Association is therefore not responsible for the information contained in these linked pages.