Exotic Invasive Plants

Alien species are the second greatest threat to the biological diversity and existence of natural ecosystems in Florida, surpassed only by direct habitat destruction!

Florida's terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems are being invaded by a host of unwanted exotic plants - hundreds of species of plants from all over the world  are now established in Florida.

These biological pollutants are having severe negative impacts on the state costing the citizens of  Florida millions of $$$ annually.

Ecological Costs

  • Decreased bio-diversity
  • Altered natural ecosystems
  •  Degraded wildlife habitat

Economic Costs

  •  Millions of  $$$ in losses annually in losses and  control costs affecting agricultural, tourism, health, and other vital  sectors of our economy

Resource Management Problems

  •  Water supply
  •  Removal and eradication
  • Negative impacts on recreational activities - fishing and water sport

...and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

There are literally dozens of other unwanted plant invaders established and disrupting natural ecosystems in Florida and the list is growing ...

How do they get here?

  • Well meaning introductions
  • Nurseries
  • Stowaways/hitchhikers
  • Private individuals
  • Storms

What can be done?

  • Education efforts to increase public awareness of the problem
  • Good stewardship - control/eliminate invasive exotics on private and public property
  • Focus groups - such FLEPPC, LEAP, and others are calling attention to this growing threat to Florida's wild lands
  • Increased research into control and eradication methods- UF Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, USDA - NIS, and others.
  • Addition of more species to Federal/State/Local - noxious weed and prohibited plant lists
  • Legislation/Enforcement
Brazilian Pepper

Brazilian Pepper: One of the top three invasive plants in Florida

  • Imported from Brazil in 1840's and 1898
  • Infests over 703,500 acres in south and central Florida
  • Forms dense mono-specific stands

Melaleuca: One of the top three invasive plants in Florida

  • From Australia in the early 1900's
  • 488,800 acres - more than 12% of total land area in South Florida*
  • Spread was estimated at 50 acres /day* - see story
Australian Pine

Australian Pine: One of the top three invasive plants in Florida

  • From Australia around 1920
  •  372,723 acres infested
  •  Needles prevent growth of native vegetation