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The County of DuPage
Wheaton, Illinois

Native Vegetation

Native Species

A native plant is one that occurs naturally in a particular region, ecosystem, or habitat without direct or indirect human intervention. As such, native plants are better adapted to the local climate and generally have deeper, more extensive root systems. This is an important factor because plant roots are often the only structure holding stream banks in place. For example, most native species have root systems that extend at least as deep as the plant is tall, or an average of 1 to 10 feet. Contrarily, the roots of mowed Blue Grass are an average of 2 inches deep. Because of their extensive roots, native species in sufficient quantities can provide significant erosion control benefits along stream banks. These visually attractive plant communities also offer a wide variety of species that provide food and habitat for wildlife, as well as improved water quality by filtering out pollutants. 

Once established, native plants also require less maintenance for homeowners. Native plants are adapted to the Northeastern Illinois climate, thus requiring less watering and no fertilizing. In fact, they are often referred to as "drought resistant." Additionally, they do not require regular mowing or maintenance and last year-round. For this reason, native plants are a homeowner best management practice in DuPage County.

Non-Native Species

Many native plants along DuPage County streams have been crowded out by aggressive, non-native species, or exotic plants. The first step in restoring an area with native vegetation is to remove the undesirable vegetation to allow more sunlight to reach the ground. Additional sunlight will allow native species to successfully re-establish. Remove the undesirable vegetation by cutting it flush to the ground and treating the stumps with a chemical herbicide. Biodegradable herbicides safe for use near streams are available, but may require a license for application. Removing the main roots or stumps is discouraged as it will destabilize stream banks and accelerate erosion. It is important to replace some of the woody plants that are removed with more desirable woody species to avoid major disturbances in wildlife habitat and other riparian functions. Once the undesirable species have been controlled, native plants can be reintroduced. Please remember that any removal of vegetation or grading activity in or near a floodplain or wetland may require a permit from DuPage County.

The following is a list of undesirable plant species commonly found in DuPage County:

Common Name Scientific NameHabit
Common Buckthorn Rhamnus catharticaShrub, Small Tree
Glossy Buckthorn Rhamnus frangula Shrub, Small Tree
Multi-flora Rose Rosa multi-flora Shrub
Tartarian Honeysuckle Lonicera tatarica & L. maackiiShrub
Reed Canary Grass Phalaris arundinacea Grass
Garlic Mustard Alliaria officinalis Ground Cover
Purple Loosestrife Lythrum salicaria Perennial
Giant Reed
 Phragmites australisGrass