Invasive, Exotic Plants Can Pose A Threat To Native Plants And AnimalsMar 3rd, 2011 | By Submitted | Category: Outdoors
LIVE OAK, FL, March 1, 2011 – You can’t miss the spring blooms of Chinese wisteria that grow alongside the road and within landscapes. The fragrant flower clusters drape over trees as an ornament on a Christmas tree.
The presence of this aggressive climbing vine, however, is not so lovely.
Chinese wisteria, mimosa, chinaberry and Chinese tallow are ornamentals commonly found in home gardens. They are also invasive, exotic plant species that can displace Florida’s native plants and threaten the health of the ecosystem.
Exotic or non-native species have been introduced into Florida for a variety of reasons, either for their ornamental nature, as a potential forage crop or by accident. Most non-native plant species are not invasive, that is there is little threat of their proliferation in the wild. On the other hand, invasive plants often out-compete native species when they enter the natural community.
“The presence and proliferation of invasive, exotic species can drastically alter the ecosystem and disrupt the natural balance among native plants and animals,” said Beau Willsey, an environmental scientist at the Suwannee River Water Management District (District).
The District is responsible for managing more than 160,000 acres of publicly-owned lands. To maintain the natural communities on these tracts, the District works to control or prevent the spread of invasive, exotic species. The District is actively treating invasive weeds on 1,113 acres on 85 tracts of land.
“We are having a positive impact at controlling these pests,” said Willsey, noting that the presence of invasive plants has significantly decreased since the District began treating the weeds in 1998.
The District protects, enhances and restores habitat and natural communities as part of its excellence in land management program. Treating invasive weeds on District-owned lands helps meet that objective. Other goals in the program include water management and nonstructural flood protection, hydrologic restoration and public access and use of District lands.
Why should homeowners get involved in controlling invasive weeds?
Invasive plants have no respect for property boundaries. Wind, birds and other animals can carry seeds or plant spores, spreading invasive weeds to natural areas. Here, they have the potential to rapidly reproduce and damage the ecosystem.
What can I do as a homeowner?
Know the plants you bring into your yard or that currently exist in your landscape. The Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council provides a list of invasive weeds, available at www.fleppc.org.
Control and prevent further spread of invasive species on your property. To learn how, visit www.fleppc.org.
Implement Florida Friendly Landscaping™. The website www.floridayards.org provides tips and advice on how to develop an attractive, low-maintenance landscape with native or drought tolerant plants. You may also contact your local extension office.
“By doing your part to control invasive, exotic species, you are promoting the biodiversity and the health of the ecosystem,” said Willsey.
For more information about the District’s efforts to control invasive, exotic plants visit http://www.srwmd.state.fl.us/index.aspx?nid=303.