Invasive Exotic Plants

 

WHAT IS AN INVASIVE EXOTIC PLANT?

Chinese tallow (popcorn tree) leaves and fruit

An exotic plant is one that has been introduced to an area from outside its native range, either accidentally or purposefully. Over time, many of these exotic plant species become naturalized, meaning that they are capable of sustaining themselves outside of their original ranges.

An invasive exotic plant is a naturalized exotic plant that spreads throughout the environment and displaces existing native vegetation by out-competing native species. These invasive plants often thrive because the naturally limiting factors that kept them under control in their native range (e.g., diseases and insects) are missing. The invasive exotic species are able to dominate native plants, and eventually alter the natural environment.

WHY SHOULD I CARE?

According to the University of South Florida, nearly one-third of the plants growing wild in Florida are non-native, and many are becoming serious problems. Once invasive plants take over our native plants, Florida’s natural biodiversity is destroyed. It costs billions of dollars to control invasive exotic plants and it is usually very difficult to eradicate them completely.

ARE THERE INVASIVE EXOTIC PLANTS IN MY AREA?

Yes!!  There are several species of invasive exotics that have become problematic in Northwest Florida.

Click here for a list of:  Invasive Exotic Plants in Northwest Florida

Bay County Conservancy volunteers continue to work diligently to remove (and prevent the spread of) several species of  invasive exotic plants that have intruded on some Conservancy properties. The worst offenders are: Chinese Tallow (popcorn tree), Japanese Climbing Fern, Chinese Privet, Wild Taro, and Air Potatoes. More information about some of these plant species can be found by clicking on the links below:

Spraying popcorn tree “resprouts”

Chinese Tallow (Popcorn Tree) “Exotic Ornamental Gone Wild”

Air potato (Dioscorea bulbifera)

 

 

For more information about how to identify and eradicate  invasive plants, visit:

The University of Florida’s Center for Aquatic & Invasive Plants

http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/parks/northwest_region.html

The Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council

http://www.fleppc.org/FLEPPC_main.htm

WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP? 

Learn to identify these and other invasive, exotic weeds.

Remove known invasive plants from your property and  continue to check if plantings are invasive before you purchase them.

Educate friends, neighbors, and local nurseries about the problems caused by invasive, exotic plants.

If you find a weed-infested area, inform the landowner or land manager so they can take steps to control the problem.

Avoid spreading exotic plants you may come in contact with while enjoying outdoor activities by removing seeds & plant fragments from clothing & equipment before leaving the area.

Never take plants from a wild area for transplanting or ornamental purposes if you aren’t sure what they are!