Legislation: Controlled Plants and Noxious Weeds
Citation and link to full text: Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, Title 3, Chapter 15
Responsible agency and link to landing page: Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA)
Related regulations: None
Advisory body and link to landing page: Pennsylvania Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Committee
Roles of legislation and related regulations: n/a
Key definition(s): A Noxious Weed is a plant in any stage of development that is determined to be injurious to crops, livestock, agricultural land or other property, including forest land and bodies of water.
Class A Noxious Weeds are established in the Commonwealth, have a geographically limited distribution, and eradication is feasible. PDA may issue a control order requiring a landowner to treat Class A noxious weeds on their land.
Class B Noxious Weeds are widely established in the Commonwealth and eradication is not considered feasible. PDA may issue a control order requiring a landowner to treat Class B noxious weeds on their land.
Class C Noxious Weeds are not known to exist in the Commonwealth but pose a threat if introduced. They include all species listed by USDA as federal noxious weeds that are not known to occur in Pennsylvania (see United States regulatory profile). PDA may issue a control order requiring a landowner to treat Class C noxious weeds on their land.
Controlled Plants are plant species that are regulated to prevent uncontained growth and to mitigate unwanted impacts. PDA may issue a control order requiring a landowner to treat controlled plants on their land that are growing outside of valid permit conditions.
The Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Committee, hereafter “the Committee,” is considered a part of PDA and has the powers of a PDA administrative board. Its duties include maintaining the tiered noxious weed list and establishing and maintaining a controlled plant list. Its membership must include Secretaries/Executive Directors of six specified state agencies/commissions, the chairs and minority chairs of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committees of both chambers of the legislature, and representation from three defined stakeholder sectors.
Class A Noxious Weeds, woody species only (full list can be found in PDA link above): None
Class B Noxious Weeds, woody species only (full list can be found in PDA link above): Multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora), tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima), and *new in 2021* Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii) and Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana). Sales of Japanese barberry will be phased out through the end of 2023 and sales of Callery pear will be phased out through early 2024.
Class C Noxious Weeds, woody species only: see United States regulatory profile
Controlled Plants, woody species only: None
Prohibited acts: Researching, marketing, distributing, transporting, cultivating, holding, retailing, wholesaling, propagating, or displaying a noxious weed or controlled plant without a permit from PDA.
Exemptions: PDA can issue individual permits for the cultivation and propagation of noxious weeds for education and research purposes. For activities related to controlled plants, PDA can issue individual or general permits. Permit conditions are determined by PDA and are published via a temporary order in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. PDA can issue stop-sale orders for sales of controlled plants outside of permit conditions.
Cultivar exemptions: None specified.
Process for species selection/addition: The Committee can decide, by majority vote of a quorum of members, to add species to or remove them from the noxious weed or controlled plant list. They must first publish notice and hold a public meeting about the proposed change. The Committee can request that PDA conduct a study or risk assessment on any species being considered for addition or removal. It is not clear whether PDA has finalized a methodology for risk assessment.
Photo Credit: Presque Isle State Park in Erie County, Pennsylvania (Photo: Dan Bruell, under Creative Commons license, via Flickr.com)