Florida’s Most Invasive Aquatic Plants

Hydrilla mat covering the surface of Lake Okeechobee

Hydrilla mat covering the surface of Lake Okeechobee

Ninety-six percent of the Florida public waters inventoried in 2017 contained one or more non-native plants. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission considers 18 of the 26 non-native aquatic plants found in Florida’s public waters to be invasive.

Invasive plants were reported in 92% of the public waters inventoried during 2017 and impacted more than 66,600 acres. This includes an estimated 55,700 acres impacted by the hydrilla standing crop as well as subterranean hydrilla tubers that can rapidly sprout and start a new infestation.

Invasive aquatic plants
are characterized by

  • multiple reproductive methods
  • wide and rapid dispersal and survival
  • broad environmental tolerance
  • rapid growth to reproductive maturity
  • ability to degrade entire ecosystems
  • difficult to control

Problems caused by invasive
aquatic plants include

  • loss of recreational opportunities
  • extreme oxygen depletion and pH changes
  • stunted fish populations, fish kills
  • water-flow restrictions, flooding
  • navigation restrictions
  • accelerated sedimentation and filling in
  • habitat destruction
  • reduction in species diversity and richness
  • reduction in property values