The magnitude of the invasive plant species problem necessitates prioritization of species for control, regulatory, and public-education programs. Many such priority lists exist but few have been developed according to specified procedures and criteria. We reviewed approaches to assessing the status of nonnative plant species currently occurring in natural areas (status assessments). We identify four generalized types of status assessments, which reflect a gradation from those that simply adopt existing lists from elsewhere (type 1), to those with relatively easy and rapid development and implementation (type 2), to those that are more time-consuming and costly but may be more robust in the face of challenges (types 3 and 4). These latter assessments explicitly have greater transparency, objectivity, and consistency than the other types. We use a matrix of assessment characteristics to distinguish the types of 17 example status assessments. We also review the factors related to assessment intent, scope, structure, content, and implementation that must be considered during the development of new status assessments so that the resulting tool and its products are appropriate for the user's purposes. These analyses should facilitate evaluation of different assessment methods and provide a basis for development of improved assessments. Identification of the relatively low percentage of nonnative plant species that are inflicting ecological and economic harm using well-understood and accepted assessment methods should facilitate a more comprehensive, collective approach to implementation of effective management efforts.
Nomenclature: Invasive plants, alien, exotic, introduced species, status assessments.