Announcing The Dirty Dozen Campaign: Our 12 Worst Invasive Plants

Sustainable Long Island

The Long Island Conservancy, in partnership with The Town of North Hempstead, Sand’s Point Preserve and The Science Museum of Long Island, has launched The Dirty Dozen Campaign: Long Island’s Twelve Worst Invasive Plants.

The Dirty Dozen Flyer is available for download HERE. Know the enemy!

“Long Island is losing badly in a war it doesn’t even know it’s fighting.”

Spot the invasive plants in your yard or park. None of these plants will be easy to remove. The Long Island Conservancy and our partners will advise you on how to manage the issue and how to keep them from spreading to neighbors or to woods and yards far away. The fact is, we are being overrun, and we need to take action.

The Long Island Conservancy is creating a page for each invasive plant and will be airing a Zoomcast/Podcast/Youtube video for each of the twelve. We will of course also be discussing the many runners up — plants we might well have chosen. It could eventually be a Top 100.

These twelve though are horrible. Japanese Knotweed, which threatens Long Island property values. Tree of Heaven and it’s little friend, The Spotted Lanternfly, which threatens our agriculture. Then there’s English Ivy, which is a death sentence for trees, spreads easily as birds eat their berries, and which has been implicated in the spread of lyme disease? Seems it provides ground cover for The White Footed Mouse, which infects the ticks in the first place. We will take you all through this rogue’s gallery so that we can then return the native plants and rebuild habitat.

A Former Invasive Choked Sump

The press conference, held August 28th at Sands Point Preserve, was covered by Newsday, CBS, and Fox5. We very much appreciate the extensive coverage given to this campaign. It is essential that Long Islanders begin to understand what they are looking at. Everyone should have a plant identification app like PictureThis! or iNaturalist. It will change your life and make taking care of the plants in your yard so much easier. We need to know again, as we did a hundred years ago, every tree, flower, and critter. If we don’t reconnect, we will both be lost.

And it’s been through our strong local partnerships that we all flourish. This initiative owes a great deal to Town of North Hempstead’s Councilwoman Veronica Lurvey, whose understanding of the importance of native plants is well reflected by the street tree policy she drafted, and who has come to see just how urgent the problem has become. Sands Point Preserve, situated on 216 acres overlooking The Long Island Sound, is a jewel, but one now tarnished by invasive plants. Under the stewardship of of Executive Director Jeremiah Bosgang, though, the goal is in sight. We were also joined by Kristin Laird, Executive Director of The Science Museum of Long Island, where an extensive invasive removal / native planting effort is underway.

It has been the task of Spadefoot Design and Construction to remove invasive plants, particularly English Ivy and Tree of Heaven from the preserve while finding native plants within the preserve to protect — Spicebush, winterberry, fern. It will take decades to remove all that doesn’t belong and put back what does, but it is well worth the effort!

CBS on “The Dirty Dozen”

Fox Five also aired a segment on The Dirty Dozen. We thank them for bringing attention to this issue. They even came out from New York City to cover the launch of The Dirty Dozen Campaign.

Watch Little Green Shoots in the coming weeks as we discuss each of the plants in The Dirty Dozen and what needs to be done about each!


  1. This is wonderful! Any thoughts on planting some Asclepia incarnata (swamp milkweed) to help our Monarchs? Not sure if it’s considered a “native” here but I have several in my garden and the Monarchs definitely use it to lay their eggs. Thank you so much for your efforts in planting a native wildflower garden. What a great addition to the Roosevelt Estate! Continued success.

    1. Swamp milkweed is definitely native and one of my favorite plants. They like butterfly milkweed and of course common milkweed. The latter is what the monarch caterpillars feed off of.

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