Melaleuca in the Everglades Mike Bodle Vegetation Management Division



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Melaleuca in the Everglades

  • Mike Bodle

  • Vegetation Management Division

  • South Florida Water Management District


Early Awareness



“There is very real potential that all the sawgrass in South Florida could eventually become melaleuca forest.”

  • “There is very real potential that all the sawgrass in South Florida could eventually become melaleuca forest.”

  • -Mark Maffei, 1989



“We’re basically talking everything in South Florida except the coastal ridge.”

  • “We’re basically talking everything in South Florida except the coastal ridge.”

  • -Ted Center on melaleuca distribution in South Florida, 1989



“It’s a tree from hell.”

  • “It’s a tree from hell.”

  • -Dan Thayer, 1990



“Only a continued and cohesive blitzkrieg will achieve solid melaleuca control.”

  • “Only a continued and cohesive blitzkrieg will achieve solid melaleuca control.”

  • -Mike Bodle, 1990



“Melaleuca is a biological disaster for South Florida.”

  • “Melaleuca is a biological disaster for South Florida.”

  • -Congressman E. Clay Shaw, 1990



Melaleuca quinquenervia is now poised to expand throughout the Everglades. The time for integrated management of the tree has come. Combined efforts and methods will, hopefully, reverse this weed’s expansion.”

  • Melaleuca quinquenervia is now poised to expand throughout the Everglades. The time for integrated management of the tree has come. Combined efforts and methods will, hopefully, reverse this weed’s expansion.”

  • -Melaleuca Management Plan for South Florida, 1990



“The current level of melaleuca infestation in South Florida and the potential for continued alteration of natural habitats by this invasive biological pollutant signal that the need for a statewide melaleuca management program is now!”

  • “The current level of melaleuca infestation in South Florida and the potential for continued alteration of natural habitats by this invasive biological pollutant signal that the need for a statewide melaleuca management program is now!”

  • - Ken Langeland, 1990



“We’re getting kind of panicky, man.”

  • “We’re getting kind of panicky, man.”

  • -Tony Pernas, 1993



Melaleuca Management Historical Background

  • 1975 - Two Melaleuca workshops (FL FWCC)

  • 1980 - Melaleuca symposium (FL Div. Forestry)

  • 1982 - Exotic woody plant conference (Fairchild)

  • 1984 - Exotic Woody Plant workshop (ENP)

  • 1984 - Exotic Pest Plant Council formed

  • 1986 - ENP Initiates Control Program

  • 1988 - EPPC Exotic Pest Plant Symposium

  • 1990 - Melaleuca Task Force



Melaleuca Task Force January 1990

  • Jointly convened by

  • >30 participants:

    • Federal, state, & local government representatives, scientists, NGOs, private industry
  • Objective:

    • Develop a comprehensive strategy for managing melaleuca throughout its range in Florida


Melaleuca Management Plan

  • May 1990 - 1st ed.

  • April 1994 - 2nd ed.

  • May 1999 - 3rd ed.

    • revised to update information
    • recommendations changed to reflect progress


Melaleuca Management Plan: EPPC Management Plan Approach

  • Summarize current ecological knowledge

    • identify research gaps
  • Summarize existing control technologies

  • Identify control technology research needs

    • developing biological controls, improving chemical and mechanical controls
  • Develop plan to integrate and coordinate efforts regionally



Melaleuca Management Plan Defining the Problem



Melaleuca Management Plan Defining the Problem

  • Sawgrass prairies

  • Cypress heads

  • Pinelands



Melaleuca Management Plan Defining the Problem

  • Many herbicides tried

  • Effectiveness varied

  • Initial treatments result in dense, even-aged seedling stands

  • Treated trees often resprout

  • Mechanical removal very expensive & unsuited for most natural areas









Melaleuca Management Plan Implementing the Plan

  • Aerial photos of 1 mi2 areas (1:3600 scale)

  • 8 areas in Dade & Broward Counties

  • 25 yrs to go from 5% (30 acres) to 95% (600 acres) cover



Aerial surveys (SFWMD)

  • Aerial surveys (SFWMD)

    • flight lines every 2.5 mi
    • coordinates (GPS) & density recorded for every occurrence
  • Conducted biannually

    • 488,000 acres in 1993
    • 453,000 acres in 1995
    • 391,000 acres in 1997
    • 359,000 acres in 1999














Conceptual Model












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