Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) South American native Early 1880s intro to N. America St. Johns River impassable by 1889



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Invasive Plants in Florida’s 

Natural Areas



Water Hyacinth 

(Eichhornia crassipes)

South American native

Early 1880s intro to N. America

St. Johns River impassable by 1889

1889 Rivers and Harbors Act

Severe problems world-wide



Water lettuce, Pistia stratiotes



Papyrus and hyacinth, Nile River



Chopping hyacinths, Lake Chapalla, Mexico



Melaleuca: 

Our First Upland Plant From Hell 



Australian native



Arrived early 1900s



Not prohibited until late 



20

th

century



Imported for:



timber 



Landscaping/Agriculture



to “dry out” wetlands

Melaleuca quinquenervia



South of Hwy 60

Mainly concentrated 



near areas of early 

plantings



Melaleuca Management Plan

Defining the Problem

Extent of infestations:



Melaleuca Distribution

Natural Areas

How much is out there?

Various techniques 



tried

satellite images



false color infrared

aerial reconnaissance 



Estimates varied 

495,300 - 2.5 million acres



Millions of seeds per tree

Many herbicides tried



Effectiveness varied

Treatments result in dense, 



even-aged seedling stand

Treated trees often resprout



Mechanical removal very 

expensive & unsuited for 

most natural areas



Melaleuca Management Plan

Defining the Problem

•Existing control options





Melaleuca Management 

Plan

Implementing the Plan

Reproductive ecology



large (21 m) trees hold 

up to 51 million seeds

15% of seeds have 



embryo

seeds can germinate 



under water

Florida vs. Australia



more seeds germinate

seedlings more abundant



greater tree density 

greater stand biomass 



•Ecological studies:

Oz:  800 trees/ha

Fla: 25,000 trees/ha


Aerial photos of  1 

mi

2

areas 



(1:3600 

scale)


8 areas in Dade & 

Broward Counties

25 yrs  to go from 



5% 

(30 acres) 

to 95% 

(600 acres) 



cover

Melaleuca Management Plan

Implementing the Plan

Year

0

5



10

15

20



25

%

 Melale

uca

 in

fes

tation

 

 (of

 1 sq. m

ile section)

0

20



40

60

80



100

% Infestation = 97.91/(1 + 77.52 x 0.74

year

)

R

2

 = 0.94

•Source:  Laroche & Ferriter 1992

•J. Aquatic Plant Manage. 30: 62-65

•How quickly do infestations grow?



1965



1990



Melaleuca Management Plan

Implementing the Plan

Oxyops vitiosa

>400 herbivores on 



Melaleuca in Australia

Several candidate 



insects Identified

Quarantine testing



Built new quarantine 

lab

•Biocontrol studies:



Boreioglycaspis melaleucae

Haplonyx multicolor 

Lophyrotoma zonalis




Melaleuca Management 

Plan

Implementing the Plan

Ground application



Hack/squirt & Cut/stump

completely girdle tree



treat stumps shortly after 

cut



Aerial application



Novel microfoil boom with 

small (0.02) nozzle

overlap spray paths by 



50%

treat twice



•Herbicide studies:

Shrubs/Groundcovers

Scratchthroat (Coral ardisia)

Ardisia crenata

Multi-



stemmed clumps to 6’

Overwhelming densities



Moist soils

Bird/wildlife  spread fruit



Wavy leaf edge

Resembles native Marlberry 



(A. escallonioides)

Native from Japan to India



Solanum diphyllum

Twoleaf nightshade

Native to Central America



Shrub to six feet

FLEPPC Category II invader



Present in FL, TX

Bird and bat pollination



Fruit spread by wildlife

Not recommended for human consumption



Shoebutton

Ardisia elliptica

Multi-branched shrub to 20 ft



Leaves alternate, simple, elliptical

Pale lavender, star-shaped flowers



Copious production of fertile black 

wildlife-dispersed fruit

Very invasive in wetlands



Established in FL, HI

FLEPPC Category I invasive



Native to S.E. Asia



Nodeweed

Synedrella notiflora

Herbaceous annual shrub



Native to tropical Americas

Now pantropical distribution



Shaded edges, disturbed sites

Reported as weed “off and on” in Florida



Not on FLEPPC list



Eugenia uniflora

Surinam cherry

Large shrub/small tree, to 20’



Native to tropical Americas

Edible red/orange fruit



Widely cultivated in tropics

Fragrant white flowers



FLEPPC Category I

Fruit dispersed by wildlife



Broad ecological tolerances



Shrubverbena (Lantana)

Lantana camara

Multi-stemmed clumps 



to 6’ or more

Simple opposite, 



aromatic leaves

Small multi-colored 



flowers in clusters

“100 World’s Worst 



Weeds”

Contaminates native 



lantana gene pool

Bird-dispersed fruit



Overwhelms understory 

in well-drained soils

Toxic to livestock



Tuberous sword fern

Nephrolepis cordifolia

Clump-forming fern on other plants, 



rocks, soil to 3’

Densest growth in partial to full 



shade, drained soils

Blunt pinnae tips



Kidney-shaped spore cases

Overlapping pinnae conceal stem 



Spores wind-borne

Asian native



Giant brake

Pteris tripartita

Native to Old World tropics



Grows to 5-feet tall

Not (yet) on FLEPPC list



Wide tolerance for habitats, hydroperiod

Now found in most of world’s tropics



At least four non-native members of genus 

now in Florida


Incised halberd fern

Tectaria incisa

Native to tropical America



Introduced to Florida in early 20

th

century


Broad tolerance for habitats, hydroperiods

Rhizomatous, spreads readily



FLEPPC Category I



Serpent/Wart  Fern

Microsorum (Phymatosorus) 

scolapendria

Native to Old World tropics



Strongly rhizomatous, spreads readily

Wide range of soils, hydroperiods



• Tough leaves with sori “warts” beneath

FLEPPC Category I



Britton’s wild  petunia 

(Mexican petunia)



Ruellia simplex

Evergreen perennial shrub 



to 3’

Leaves linear, lanceolate, 



serrate

Purple, pink ,white flowers



Purple stems, leaf veins

Aggressively self-seeds



Frost intolerant

Sterile varieties?



Native to Mexico



Caesarweed

Urena lobata

Tropic and subtropic Old World native



FLEPPC Category I (?)

Lots of fertile seed



Fruit bristled with recurved adhesive 

barbs 



Wide habitat tolerance



Rapid growth to 10 feet

Dense colonies common



Mallow family



Okinawa spinach

Gynura crepiodes

Native to Old World tropics



Cultivated as vegetable world-wide

Eaten raw or cooked



Green leaf and bicolor leaf varieties

Spreads readily, sprawling stems root



Many seeds

Aster family



Not (yet) on FLEPPC list



Small-leaf spiderwort

(Tradescantia fluminensis)

Weedy in its native Brazil, Argentina



FLEPPC Category I

Glossy forest-green, parallel-veined leaves



Spreads most rapidly in moist forests

Small clusters of 3-petaled flowers



Forms dense overwhelming blankets

Spreads by fragmentation



Monk Orchid, Spotted Oeceoclades

Oeceoclades maculata

Terrestrial orchid



Dark green ovoid pseudobulbs

to 2 inches

Leaves nearly erect, mottled 



green to 12 in long by 2 in wide

Spreads by minute seeds



Flowers light brown to pinkish 

green, ½ x ½ inches

Established in FL, Bahamas, 



Americas

Native to Africa



Grass-leafed Orchid

Chinese Crown Orchid



Eulophia graminea

Terrestrial orchid



Inflorescence spike to two-feet

Flowers ½-inch across



Leafless when flowering

Ovoid pseudobulbs at ground level



Spread by minute seeds

Mulch contaminant?



Leaves linear, lanceolate to one foot long

Native to subtropics of eastern Asia



Pushes through asphalt

FLEPPC Cat II



Wedelia

Sphagneticola trilobata

(syn. Wedelia trilobata)

Perennial, evergreen, mat-forming



Native to South and Ctrl America

FLEPPC Category II



Wide ecological tolerances

Naturalized around the globe



Little fertile seed produced

Expands quickly, rooting from 



nodes

Spread by discarded yard waste



Rhoeo trandescantia/spathacea

Oyster plant/Moses in the Cradle

Forms dense beds



Not FLEPPC-listed

Small white flowers within 



boat-shaped bracts

Wide range of tolerance



Irritating sap

• Don’t eat!


Creeping Water Primrosewillow

(Ludwigia uruguayaenesis, hexapetala, grandiflora, 



peploides)

Overwhelming Kissimmee grass

Overwhelming Cattail

Overwhelming

• “New” to Osceola, Polk Counties lakes 

and central St. Johns River

Longer presence in N. and S. Carolina



• “Worst” weed of France since mid

-1800s


South American group

Spread around planet as ornamental



Loads of underwater biomass

Young growth supported by natives



Young, floating, insinuating growth

Hexapetala??



GRASSES

Giant reed

Arundo donax

Erect perennial cane 



grass to 25’

Large plume-like flat 



flower spikes

Leaves broad, 2-ranked 



Thick, hollow, branching 

rootstock

Blade basal lobes nearly 



surround stem

Aggressive riparian 



invader

Eurasian native



Napier grass, elephant grass

(Pennisetum purpureum)

Dense monocultures to 15 feet



Native to tropical Africa

FLEPPC Category I



Leaf blades to 2 ½ feet long, white mid-

rib



“Bottlebrush” cylindrical 



seedhead to 1 ft

Grows along dikes, ditches



Wide range of ecological tolerance



Common reed

(Phragmites australis)

World-wide distribution with varying 



haplotypes

Invasive European haplotype spreading 



quickly in N. America

Florida Phragmites native 



Overholt


Sheaths overlap, ligule a ring of stiff hairs



Phragmites australis

Phragmites australis

Torpedograss

Panicum repens

Nativity obscure 



Eurasia, Africa, S. 

America?

Widely habitat tolerant



Thick, pointed rhizome 

torpedos

Forms very dense 



monocultures

No seeds found here



Tropical American Watergrass

(Luziola subintegra)

Discovered in 2007 in Lake Okeechobee



Separate male and female panicles

Opportunistic seed, mostly viable



Hundred of seeds per plant annually

Tremendously invasive, rapid 



overwhelming growth.

Flat, ridged leaf blade



Flattened spongy leaf base

Ligule large triangular membrane



Tropical American Watergrass

Rampant Spring re-growth

Young insinuating, sprawling

stems 


2011: Trying to help snail kites

Lake O, Fisheating Creek

Kite nest



Scleria microcarpa

Tropical nutrush

New world sedge  - S. America, 



Caribbean

New to North America



Behaving badly

First spotted in Kissimmee chain 



2015

Understory, shade-loving



Perennial



Range in 

Florida


Vouchered in Osceola 

and Polk Counties

Lakes Hatchineha, 



Rosalie, Tiger, 

Kissimmee, Reedy 

Creek


Scleria microcarpa identification

• Leaf blades “decurrent”  

- winged

Achenes are exposed



Scleria microcarpa Identification

Achene often attached to



seedlings  

Scleria microcarpa Habitat

Scleria microcarpa vs. Scleria lacustris

S. Lacustris  S. microcarpa

S. lacustris 

enclosed achenes





S. Lacustris

open marsh habitat



Retorse (twisting) growth

Very scabrous leaf margins



6 feet height



S. Microcarpa

to 3 ½ feet



Herbicide Trials 

Lake Hatchineha

2% glyphosate



30 DAT 

60% control



60 DAT 

80% control



Scleria microcarpa Control Trials

2% glyphosate + 1 qt 2,4-D: 60 DAT 65% control



2,4-D 1 qt: 60 DAT less than 5% control

Flumioxazin 4 oz: 60 DAT less than 10% control



2% glyphosate + 4 oz flumioxazin: 60 DAT 70% 

control



Flumioxazin 4 oz + 64 oz imazamox: 60 DAT 55% 



control

Imazamox 64 oz:



60 DAT less than 5% control

2% glyphosate + 64 oz imazamox: 60 DAT less 



than 5% control

Decontaminate!

Hyptis brevipes

Lesser roundweed

Bushmint family



Vouchered Hillsborough, 

Okeechobee Cos.

Develops large infestations



Central and South 

American native

Naturalized in Asia



Disturbed, wet habitats

Annual


Stems and leaves covered 

with fine hairs


Hyptis alata v. Hyptis brevipes

Similar appearances



Hyptis alata

long 


peduncles

Hyptis brevipes



short 


peduncles

H. brevipes probably will 



behave badly

H. alata

H. brevipes



Hyptis brevipes

email Cherlyl Millett

cmillett@tnc.org

Scleria microcarpa

email Alex Onisko

aonisko@sfwmd.gov

Collect and voucher



VINES

Air potato

Dioscorea bulbifera

FLEPPC Cat. I list



Asian native

Overwhelming vining growth



Great youth activity plant

Biocontrol: Lilioceris chenii - foliar damage





Lilioceris ezina coming - bulbil damage

Twolobe passionflower

Passiflora biflora

Native to tropical Americas



FLEPPC Category II

Vine cover can be heavy



Many insects love passionvines

control? 



Floral structure analagous to

Christ’s crown –

common name 



Abrus precatorius

Rosary pea

Aggressive vine



Native to S.E. Asia

Broadly naturalized in 



southern states

FLEPPC Category I



Poisonous bicolor red/black 

seed



Single seed may cause 



blindness or death

Autumn virginsbower

(Clematis ternifolia)

Semi-evergreen vine native to Asia



Climbing, overwhelming growth

Showy, fragrant flowers with four petals



Extremely hardy, drought tolerant, etc.

FLEPPC and SE-EPPC listed



Spread by seed

Native C. virginiana has serrate leaves 



Arrowhead vine

American Evergreen



Syngonium podophyllum

High-climbing epiphytic vine



Young leaves arrow-shaped, 

mature leaves 5 to 11 lobed, to 

2-feet


Flowers in clusters on column 

within fleshy-spath

Fruit orange-red poisonous 



berry

Central American native



FLEPPC Category I



Old-world climbing fern

Lygodium microphyllum

Delicate twining fronds to 100’



Pinnae along stemlike rachis

Pinnae oblong, not divided



Sterile pinnae lance-shaped

Fertile pinnae fringed with spore 



lobes

Lygodium moths (Neomusitima) 



establishing in FL

Native to much of Old World 



tropics 

Africa, Asia, Pacific



Japanese climbing fern

Lygodium japonicum

Delicate twining fronds to 100’



Pinnae along stemlike rachis

Prefers moist, part-shade -



pinelands

Pinnae triangular, pinnately 



divided

Sterile frond edges deeply incised



Fertile fronds less elongated

True fern 



no flowers

Windborne spores



Contaminant of pine straw bales



Staghorn fern

Platycerium bifurcatum

Epiphytic fern



Fleshy, hairy light to dark green 

fronds



Frond hairs star-shaped



Sheathing fronds cover rhizomes

Fertile fronds forked, erect or 



drooping, to 3 feet, patches of sori 

underneath

Spread by wind-borne spores



Introduced to FL, HI

Native to Australia, SE Asia



Catclawvine

Macfadyena unguis-cati

High-climbing woody vine



Tuberous roots

3-forked tendril with with tips stiffly 



hooked, clawlike

Showy yellow trumpet-like flowers



Fruit linear capsule with oblong, 

winged seeds

Rapidly overtops any structures



Difficult to control 

tubers


Native from Caribbean to Argentina



TREES

Bischofia javanica

Bishopwood

Evergreen tree to 60’



Native to Asia, Australia

Leaves, papery, bronze/green, 



trifoliate, toothed margins

Smooth bark at maturity



Heavy seed producer, tan berries

Fruit dispersed by wildlife



FLEPPC Category I



Chinese privet

(Ligustrum sinense)

Thicket-forming shrub to 30 feet



Showy clusters of small white flowers

Deep purple ovoid berries



Bird and wildlife dispersal of berries

Serious pest of tree plantations



Carrotwood

Cupaniopsis anacardiodes

Compact, evegreen single-trunk 



tree to 30’, 1950s FL introduction

FLEPPC Category I, Florida 



DACS 1999 listed Noxious Weed, 

many counties

Leaves oblong, compound, leathery



Numerous three-lobed yellow fruit 

contain red seeds

Birds (esp. fish crows) and wildlife 



disperse fruit widely

Wide range of FL habitats invaded



Native to Australia



Ficus benjamina

Weeping fig

Large evergreen tree to 100’



Native to S.E. Asia, Australia

Invasive roots lift pavement, clog 



pipes

Ficus whitefly spreading and 



defoliating

Numerous cultivars, variegated 



foliage, etc.

Specific pollinator wasp not in FL



No fertile seed yet in FL

Most over-planted plant in FL



Other spp. : F. benghalensis, F. 

microcarpa


Brazilian pepper

Schinus terebinthifolius

Shrubby evergreen tree to 40’



Leaves alternate, once-compound

Leaflets usually 7-9, toothed



Flowers unisexual, small white

Copious bright red drupes in clusters



Forms dense, vast thickets

Birds/wildlife transport berries



Family includes poison ivy, strong 

allergens

Several biocontrol insects in 



“pipeline” for FL release

Native to Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay



Calophyllum antilleanum

Santa Maria, Mastwood

New World tropics native



FLEPPC Category I

Leaf veins parallel, angled to 



midvein

Produces lots of fertile fruit



Dense excellent lumber

Wide habitat tolerance



Port Jackson Fig

Ficus rubiginosa/obliqua

Australian, introduced to Fla. by early 20



th

century


No seedlings until recently spotted in Palm 

Beach Co.

Fertilizing wasps arrive decades later



Synconium

– Fig’s unique flowers 

- hollow 

with multiple inward ovaries


References and Credits

Wunderlin, R.P.  Guide to the Vascular Plants of Florida.  



University Press of Florida, Gainesville. 1998.

Langeland, K.A. and K.C. Burks, eds., Identification and 



Biology of Non-

Native Plants in Florida’s  Natural Areas. 

University of Florida, IFAS. 1998.

Pacific Islands Ecosystems At Risk 



website:(http://www.hear.org/Pier/)



Melaleuca Management 

Plan

Implementing the Plan

Ground application



Hack/squirt & Cut/stump

completely girdle tree



treat stumps shortly after 

cut



Aerial application



Novel microfoil boom with 

small (0.02) nozzle

overlap spray paths by 



50%



treat twice



•Herbicide studies:

Kataloq: presentations
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