May Showers and Spring Flowers: Invasive Plants Will Be Blooming

the flowers of a dame's rocket plant, showing four petals and pink/purple in color, are gathered in a cluster

As winter ends, and spring begins, and we look forward to May, we can start to learn invasive plants that are common early bloomers. In May and June, keep an eye out for Dame’s Rocket (Hesperis matronalis), sometimes referred to as “early phlox”. A fun way to remember how to distinguish this invasive plant from our native woodland phlox (Phlox divaricata) and garden phlox (Phlox paniculata), is by looking at their names and their petals. Phlox has five petals, and five letters spell its name. Dame has four petals, and four letters spell its name. Dame’s rocket in on the watch list for invasive species in Vermont.

Another obvious bloomer in May and June is Wild Chervil (Anthriscus sylvestris). This invasive plant can be seen alongside roads, but notably in our beautiful rolling Vermont fields. Often confused for Queen Ann’s Lace (Daucus carota), Wild Chervil can be distinguished by a lack of “bracts” (in this case, small feathery leaves under the D. carota flower umbel). While both plants originate from Europe and Asia, wild chervil is on the watch list for invasive species in Vermont. 

Dame’s Rocket and Wild Chervil spread by seed and outcompete native plants for growing space and other resources. Both are also common to see in “Wildflower Mixes”.

Steps we can all take before buying seed mixes (whether wildflower, grass, or even birdseed) include checking the species listed on the product (be aware that plants may be listed by scientific name, and that not all plants within the mix may be listed), and consider sourcing seed mixes from Conservation organizations like the Xerces Society, who make native seed mixes based by region.


Resources to learn more about common invasive plants:

New England Wildflower Society Common Invasive Plants

Vermont Noxious Weed Quarantine List

Vermont Unofficial Watchlist


And remember, spread the word, not the plant!