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University of Minnesota Extension

Pay Attention to Weeds - It’s the Law!

Source: Emilie Justen, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, emilie.justen@state.mn.us; Emily Hansen, Extension Educator, Horticulture, (612) 394-6302, hans6005@umn.edu

With the cold temperatures we have seen the past week, I bet most of you have dreamt of summer from the safety of your home. As you are inside pondering what your garden will look like this year, weeds and all, it is a good idea to take the time to read over the new additions to the Minnesota Noxious Weed list. 

The Noxious Weed Law is meant to protect people, animals, food we eat, and nature from the harmful effects noxious weeds present. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture and other local governmental bodies help to control and eradicate noxious weeds that pose a risk to the communities they serve. According to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture:

“Landowners that refuse to comply with an official inspector's notice to control noxious weeds are in violation of the Noxious Weed Law and are subject to having the county contract the work to be performed, with all costs being added to their property taxes or a summons to district court”.

It is important to keep track of the list of Minnesota noxious weeds in order to keep people, animals, and the environment safe.

As of January 1, 2023, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture added nine new weeds to the state’s Noxious Weed List. The Noxious Weed List places weeds into four categories: Prohibited Eradicate, Prohibited Control, Restricted, and Specially Regulated. These categories define how the plants must be managed. Four weeds on the list also changed categories.

Noxious weed categories

Prohibited Eradicate Prohibited Control Restricted Specially Regulated
All parts of the plants must be destroyed. Efforts must be made to stop the plant from spreading. Landowners are encouraged to manage the plant's spread. Plants have special management plans minimize harm.

As the lead agency for noxious weed regulation, the MDA, with recommendations from the Noxious Weed Advisory Committee, updates the state’s Noxious Weed List every three years. Plants are placed on the Noxious Weed List because they may be harmful to public health, the environment, public roads, crops, livestock, or other property. There are restrictions on the weed’s sale, transport, growth, or spread.

The nine new species added to the list are:

  • Johnsongrass (Sorghum halepense) as Prohibited Eradicate
  • Pale swallow-wort (Cynanchum rossicum) as Prohibited Eradicate
  • Red hailstone/ goldencreeper (Thladiantha dubia) as Prohibited Eradicate
  • Amur silvergrass (Miscanthus sacchariflorus) as Restricted
  • Lesser celandine (Ficaria verna) as Restricted
  • Saltcedar (Tamarix ramoissima) as Restricted
  • Amur corktree (Phellodendron amurense) as Specially Regulated
    Only sales of named male cultivars are permitted. Sales of all other Phellodendron amurense are prohibited. All existing planted and escaped fruit producing trees must be controlled, by tree removal or other means, such that no seed is disseminated. 
  • Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana) as Specially Regulated
    Three-year production phase-out period, after which sale of this species will be prohibited and the species will be designated as Restricted in 2026.
  • Tatarian maple (Acer tataricum) as Specially Regulated
    Sellers shall affix a label that advises “Tatarian maple should only be planted in areas where the seedlings will be controlled or eradicated by mowing or other means. Tatarian maple seed is wind dispersed so trees should not be planted closer than 100 yards from natural areas."

The four species that changed category are:

  • Meadow knapweed (Centaurea x moncktonii) from Prohibited Eradicate to Prohibited Control
  • Poison hemlock (Conium maculatum) from Prohibited Eradicate to Prohibited Control
  • Round leaf bittersweet (formerly oriental bittersweet) (Celastrus orbiculatus) from Prohibited Eradicate to Prohibited Control
  • Winged burning bush (Euonymus alatus) from Specially Regulated to Restricted

Prohibited Eradicate species are considered a serious threat and are the state’s highest priority noxious weeds. These species must have all above and below ground parts of the plant destroyed.

Prohibited Control weeds are found in higher populations than those on the Eradicate species list, and they must be stopped before the weeds mature and spread through seeds, cuttings, and other plant parts.

Restricted noxious weeds are widely found throughout Minnesota. Landowners with Restricted weeds on their property are encouraged to manage these species but cannot be forced to do so under the Noxious Weed Law.

Specially Regulated plants are native or have the potential to cause harm in non-managed landscapes. These weeds have specific management plans developed by the MDA, and measures must be taken to minimize their potential harm.

To view the updated Noxious Weed List and to learn more about the category definitions, go to www.mda.state.mn.us/noxiousweedlist.  

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