Invasive Species Red Alert

Japanese Chaff Flower (JCF) (scientific name Achyranthes japonica) is one of the most invasive species to affect Atlanta and southeastern greenspaces and natural areas. It has the potential to exponentially reduce native biodiversity in a way we may have never seen before. An ounce of prevention is worth many tons of cure with this very fast spreading species.

Metro Atlanta is a Hotspot

The main source of spreading JCF is humans and dogs, because the seeds stick so easily to dogs and clothing, and even mowing equipment. This invasive species has already taken over some metro Atlanta Parks, and it has begun to invade many more, maybe even your yard.

About Japanese Chaff Flower 

Japanese Chaff Flower has a 94% germination rate, which means if its seeds fall to the ground, 94% of them will sprout to make a new plants. Plants can produce seeds at only a few inches tall, or they can grow to 9 feet tall, with one plant producing over 1500 seeds. Japanese Chaff Flower is known for its medicinal qualities in Asia, especially the dried roots.

Here’s what you can do

  1. Check your dog, shoes and clothing for seeds after walks – put seeds securely in the trash, not leaving them on the ground – treat the seeds like “nuclear waste”
  2. Get this plant out of your yard, pull it or dig it out by the roots, we do not advise using toxic chemicals that kill so many other things and poison our environment, however, cutting and treating the stems carefully with one drop of Round-Up may be needed for large plants that are hard to dig.
  3. Help greenspace volunteers get it out of our parks and greenspaces (see Eco-A Stewardship and parter events)
  4. Tell your friends and neighbors, help educate others
  5. Contribute to a new Eco-A fund dedicated solely to educating about and removing Japanese Chaff Flower from our neighborhoods and greenspaces

How to identify Japanese Chaff Flower (see photos below)

  • leaves have smooth edges (no teeth or notches)
  • leaves are exactly opposite each other along the stem
  • stem is square
  • seeds develop in Aug – Oct in an erect cluster at the tops of the plant and along branches
  • seeds are shaped like a small rectangular grain of rice, with hairs at one end that attach to clothing, animals; they are greenish at first, becoming tan as they mature
  • be careful, other high value, uncommon native species may have similar looking seed stalks, found especially in greenspaces and older growth natural areas

 (above ) JCF seeds, up close

We need your vigilance and help in stopping the spread

of this very invasive species!  (photos & more info below)






(above) Small JCF plants before they’ve made seeds; leaves have smooth edges (no teeth or notches), and come out opposite each other along the stem, plant leaves have 4-part “squarish” form

(above) JCF leaves are opposite along the stem

(above) tops of JCF plants with seeds

(above) JCF seeds on a dog








(above) This is native Lopseed, seed stalks may look similar but leaves have a NOTCHED EDGE, these plants are rare, found only in original forest remnants in our area


(above) This is native Horse Balm, rare in Metro Atlanta, leaves have a NOTCHED EDGE, flowers smell like licorice or lemon, this is an indicator species for older forests and rich woods, mentioned in Natural Communities of Georgia.



(right) This is native Virginia Knotweed,  leaves are smooth along the edge, BUT leaves are not opposite along the stem


JCF is spreading

(below) Almost all the green plants you see on the left side of the trail are JCF at Dearborn Park











(left) JCF plants carefully cleared by neighborhood volunteers at Dearborn Park





Other resources

Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health (great photos)

Perdue University Extension Service

Walter Reeves Gardening (note: Eco-A does not support broadcast spraying of any herbicide or pesticide chemicals)

Georgia Exotic Pest Plant Council List