Lesson Plan

Alien Invasion

Chinese Privet (Ligustrum sinense), a non-native invasive plant species
Chinese Privet (Ligustrum sinense), a non-native invasive plant species

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Grade Level:
Ninth Grade-Twelfth Grade
Biology: Plants, Environment
2 class periods: 1 on trail, 1 in classroom
Group Size:
Up to 36
National/State Standards:
Intro to Bio: 3b, 3d
Biology 1: 3c
Environmental Science: 2c, 2d, 2e, 2f, 3a,b,c
invasive, non-native, diversity, Bio-diversity, population, community, competition, exotic plants, plants, botany, national scenic trail, plant diversity


On a National Scenic Trail, students will investigate how privet, a non-native plant species, out-competes and affects native plant species diversity. They will inventory the plants along the trail.


Enduring Understanding: Invasive species can out-compete native species and affect plant species diversity.

Essential Question: What are the effects of invasive non-native plants?

The students will:

1) Learn how population dynamics are affected by the introduction of a non-native plant species

2) Develop observation skills

3) Use prediction and inference to develop conclusions.

For the complete lesson plan, please email natr_education@nps.gov or call 1-800-305-7417. Please indicate whether or not you need an accessible lesson plan.


Invasive non-native plants are spreading across our country. Without the natural checks that exist in their indigenous areas, they often spread and out-compete native plants, reducing diversity and sometimes creating a virtual monoculture. In the southeast, one of the most invasive and difficult to control non-native plants is privet. See the attached USDA handout for more information.

What is an invasive plant? According to the Alabama Invasive Plant Council (AIPC) an invasive plant species is one that displays rapid growth and spread, establishes over large areas, and persists. Invasiveness is characterized by robust vegetative growth, high reproductive rate, and longevity. Even some native plants can become invasive under the right conditions.


1.) Discussion Stimulators

2.) Example of Plant Data

3.) Results Worksheet

4.) Privet Sheet

5.) Conclusions Worksheet

6.) Data Collection Sheet

7.) 4 plot corner markers for each group

8.) Labeled toothpick markers (about 26 with extra blanks)

9.) Meter stick or meter-long piece of string

10.) Appropriate Scenic Trail Map



Participation in the activities, accuracy and completion of data sheets and report.

Park Connections

Non-native species affect plant species diversity all along the Natchez Trace Parkway.


1.) Relate this study to other topics when lessons include subjects such a species distribution, competition and populations.

2.) The students could research other non-native plants and develop reports or displays.

3.) The students might investigate the "Saltcedar Study" in the American Southwest. https://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=2451

Additional Resources

The students might investigate the "Saltcedar Study" in the American Southwest. https://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=2451


Invasive, non-native, diversity, population, community, competition

Last updated: January 9, 2018