An invasive plant is defined by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services as a non-native plant
that can grow without human help and expands its range into and within Floridian ecosystems.
Invasive species can degrade our natural resources, cause management problems in agricultural fields and be costly.
How Invasive Plant Species Are Introduced
The ornamental plant trade is the primary pathway for the movement of invasive plants worldwide, introducing non-native plants that became invasive in the new environment.
Rose Peppertree—formerly Brazilian Peppertree,Schinus terebinthifolia—was introduced to Florida as an ornamental plant in the mid-1800s and later escaped cultivation.
With a quick growth rate, wide climate tolerance, profuse seed production and a high germination rate, this plant rapidly displaces native vegetation.
What You Can Do
You can foster a sustainable landscape by selecting plants that will reduce the prevalence of invasive species. To help in the fight against invasive plants:
- Recognize and remove invasive species from the landscape.
- Learn the differences between common names, scientific names and varieties.
- Use alternatives to invasive species, such as native plants or sterile, non-invasive varieties.
- Practice Florida-friendly landscaping principles by ensuring you choose the right plant for the right place.
- Participate in invasive species roundups and educational events.
- Get involved with your local Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas.
- If you have a question, talk with your local UF/IFAS Extension Office or master gardener volunteer.
New Resource Available
The University of Florida IFAS Extension Bookstore has a field-friendly guide to help you select the right non-invasive plants. “Plant This Not That: A Guide to Avoiding Invasive Plant Species in Florida,” features more than 20 entries, each detailing a commercially available invasive plant. Each entry contains:
- The common and scientific names of the plant.
- A description of its appearance, growth habit, distribution and range in Florida.
- The ecological implications of the plant.
- Alternative plants or approved cultivars to plant instead.
For help with horticultural questions, contact your county extension office. For more information, visit ffl.ifas.ufl.edu. Morgan Pinkerton, DPM, Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Agent contributed to this article.