What's an invasive plant?

Saguaro flower
Saguaro flower. Saguaros are native here.

NPS Photo

Native plants evolved as part of the ecosystem and have been part of our landscape since before the arrival of Europeans.They have adapted through natural selection to the soil, climate, and other plants and animals of the ecosystem. A non-native plant species is not native to an area and has usually been introduced by people. Examples of plants not native to Tucson include a rose bush or a boojum tree. The boojum tree is native to parts of the Sonoran Desert, but not the Tucson area.
Buffelgrass fire
Buffelgrass fire. Buffelgrass is not native here.

NPS Photo

Non-native plants are considered INVASIVE when they are known to displace native plant species. Invasive non-native species can be harmful or destructive to native plant and animal communities, as well as negatively impact local economies and human safety.

The park has many non-native plants that are not invasive. There are also some that are highly invasive, like
BUFFELGRASS. Buffelgrass can out-compete native plants and carry fire in an ecosystem which is not fire adapted.

Buffelgrass has the potential to convert large areas of the Sonoran Desert into a buffelgrass grassland, subject to frequent,
high-intensity fires. A landscape-level change such as this would eliminate the iconic saguaro, reduce native plants and animals, and endanger human lives and homes.
Here's a complete list of established, eradicated, and early detection non-native species found in the park.

Last updated: June 28, 2019

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