Invasive vs. Aggressive: They are not the same
|In Florida if given a chance, Bidens alba will completely take over a disturbed area, but this doesn't mean that it's invasive.|
|A polka-dotted wasp moth sipping nectar from a bidens floret.|
For more information see An Exception to the Rules
Native plants are NOT invasive.They belong here and work well within the natural ecosystems. A pioneer plant like beggars' ticks (Bidens alba) is certainly aggressive and efficient at completely covering a disturbed site, but after a couple of years, it will give way to other plants in Mother Nature's succession parade, which depends upon where it's found. The plants that take over could include broom sedge (Andropogon spp.), goldenrod (Solidago spp.), dog fennel (Eupatorium capillifolium), which then my be replaced by pines and oaks after a few years.
- An invasive exotic plant is a naturalized exotic plant that is expanding its range into natural areas and disrupting naturally occurring native plant communities.
via Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council (www.fleppc.org)
Invasive plants may not be aggressiveOn the other hand, as a gardener just looking at your landscape, you might not be able to determine which plants are invasive and which are not. Some relatively tame landscape plants like heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica) and Mexican petunia (Ruellia brittoniana) are on the FLEPPC Category I list of invasives, while others like wedelia (Sphagneticola trilobata) are aggressive in the landscape, but are only on the Category II list.
|This mailbox planting of mostly nandina does not appear to be overly aggressive.|
|But the birds eat the berries and deposit them (with a |
dollop of organic fertilizer) far beyond your yard.
You can purchase this plant in any number of big box stores and at plant sales throughout Florida, but it is invasive here. FLEPPC has placed it on the Category I list as most invasive for all of Florida.It is also been proven to be toxic to birds.
If you have it on your property, remove it ASAP. Plant beauty berry (Callicarpa americana), one of the native azaleas (Rhododendron spp.) or a shrubby holly (Ilex spp.) instead.
You can find natives grown from Florida stock at www.plantrealFlorida.org
|Mexican petunia (Ruellia simplex) is highly invasive even though you might be able to control it|
in your landscape.
Ruellia simplexThe Mexican petunia (Ruellia simplex) is widely sold and widely planted. It's easy to care for and blooms throughout the season. You may be able to keep it trimmed back in your yard, but it's on the move into our natural areas. There is a variety that is sterile, but if it looks the same as the invasive type, who really knows what you're really buying?
Botanical note: R. tweediana and R. brittoniana are synonyms. See Florida's Plant Atlas
Natives to plant instead include dotted horsemint (Monarda punctata), Spanish needles (Bidens alba), and snow squarestem (Melanthera nivea).
|Wedelia: the beautiful invasive|
Sphagneticola trilobataWedelia or creeping ox-eye (Sphagneticola trilobata) can cover your whole landscape, so you might not be surprised to find that it's a Florida invasive, but it apparently has not invaded enough of our natural areas to be included in the top 76 invasives and so is classified as a Category II invasive, which is on the watch list.
Creeping natives for Florida include dune sunflower (Helianthus debilis), railroad vine (Ipomoea pes-caprae), and sunshine mimosa (Mimosa strigillosa).
|Wedelia can cover your whole landscape and invade your lawn.|
|A long-tailed skipper (Urbanus proteus) on a Bidens alba.|
What can you do about invasives?The problem with invasives is that their infestations will continue to grow unless we all act. Remove invasives from your yard, don’t purchase them, and complain to the store management when you see invasives for sale. Be part of the solution. Don't be part of the problem. When creating the priority list of what to in your landscape, removing invasive plants needs to be at the top of the list.
Meanwhile, enjoy the parade of pollinators on your natives including the aggressive, but not invasive, Spanish needles (B. alba).
|Hold still! A gulf fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) enjoys a drink.|
|A honey bee (Apis spp.) stops by.|
|A Eastern pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis) hunts for prey. |
For more info see, Attracting Damsels and Dragons
Invasive vs. Aggressive... Part 1
Invasive Exotic plants
Invasive Species Week Feb 26th to March 4th
Removing Invasives in Mandarin a team effort
Mexican Petunia: a Plant Gone Rogue
Good Plants Gone Bad
Australian Pine: One of Florida's Least Wanted
This is only about half of the posts on this topic posted on this blog since 2010. We are serious about educating you, and anyone you talk to, about how important this is. There are still people who argue, "Well it's not invasive in MY yard, so it's okay."
Well, it's not okay and we are spending millions of dollars (both private and public) to fight this problem. Again: DON'T BE PART OF THE PROBLEM! PLANT NATIVES!
Post and photos by Ginny Stibolt