Invasive Plants In State Parks
Based on requests from a number of state parks, we've developed a brochure template that can be used by any of the state parks for informing visitors about invasive plants. So far, we've made brochures for twenty-one parks.
See below for "generic" text that is included in these brochures or click on the pdf file to the right to see a sample hard copy.
Identifying Invasive Plants
The non-native plants in this brochure have proven to be invasive in our park (and region) and are currently being controlled by park staff, contractors and volunteers. Do you recognize any of them? Read on to learn more about these quiet invaders.
What Is An Invasive Plant?
Of the more than 4,000 plant species found in Florida, 1,300 or more are non-native* or exotic; they come from other countries or regions within the U.S. At least 130 of these exotic plants are spreading rapidly throughout our natural areas. When they cause environmental or economic harm, they are considered to be invasive.
*The Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council defines an exotic (nonnative) species as one introduced to Florida, purposefully or accidentally, from a natural range outside of Florida. A naturalized exotic is one that is self-sustaining outside of cultivation.
So, What’s The Problem?
In their native ranges, plants generally do not become a nuisance. Today, with modern transportation, many exotic plants have caught a free ride to Florida. Once here, they are free from natural enemies that existed in their home range (insects, diseases, etc.), and can outgrow and replace Florida’s native plants.
When invasive plants replace native plants:
- Native plants can be permanently eliminated, diminishing Florida’s natural diversity;
- Animals that use native plants are often unable to adapt, so they leave the area or die out;
- Invasive aquatic plants can completely fill the water column, driving fish and wildlife from the area.
Why Should We Care?
Invasive plants are costing Floridians a lot of money; nearly 80 million taxpayer dollars were spent in 2005 to control them. If not kept in check, invasive plants can create ideal breeding grounds for mosquitos, cause serious navigation blockages, and major flooding problems during storms. Boating, swimming, hiking and other uses of natural areas can also be made difficult, even dangerous, by invasive plant infestations.
Keeping Things Under Control
After much research, we know that some invasive plant species will never be eradicated in Florida; they simply reproduce too fast. That is why we strive to keep them at the lowest feasible levels. The regular maintenance of invasive plants lessens overall environmental and economic damages and maintains habitat for native flora and fauna.
Help Control Invasive Plants by Keeping Them Out of Your Landscape at Home
Preventing the introduction and spread of invasive plants in Florida is the most effective and least expensive means of protecting Florida’s natural habitats. Here are a few things we can all do:
- Learn more about invasive plants
- Volunteer to help remove invasive plants in your area.
- Inspect your yard for invasive plants; discard them in household trash (don’t compost).
- Practice good stewardship: don’t transport invasive plants to other areas and never empty your aquarium into a body of water, not even a canal.
- Avoid chopping aquatic plants with boat propellers as some plant fragments can grow into new infestations.
- Remove plant fragments from boats/trailers after use; check clothing, shoes, and pets for seeds after hiking.
- Ask your nursery or garden center for native and/or non-invasive plants.
- Watch for and report invasive plants found in this park; note the location and tell a ranger.
- Take guided walks at state parks to learn about Florida’s native plants and animals.