Florida's Most Invasive Plants

Water hyacinth has plagued Florida waters since the late 1800s as shown in the 1898 post card (above) of the St Johns River. Note, however, that the flowers depicted in the inset are incorrect for water hyacinth.
Water hyacinth has plagued Florida waters since the late 1800s as shown in this 1898 post card of the St Johns River. Note: flowers in the inset are incorrect for water hyacinth.
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 2013 contained one or more exotic plants. The Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council (FLEPPC) lists 12 of the 24 non-native aquatic plants found in Florida’s public waters among the 66 Category I invasive plants. Category I plants are plants that invade or disrupt native plant communities.

Category I invasive plants were reported in 96% of the public waters inventoried during 2013 and impacted more than 102,000 acres (including more than 90,000 acres impacted by hydrilla plants and tubers).  

Invasive aquatic plants are characterized by

  • rapid growth
  • multiple reproductive methods
  • wide dispersal and survival
  • broad environmental tolerance
  • resistance to management

Problems caused by invasive aquatic plants include

  • loss of recreation
  • severe oxygen depletion
  • stunted fish populations, fish kills
  • water-flow restrictions, flooding
  • navigation restrictions
  • accelerated sedimentation
  • habitat destruction
  • reduction in biodiversity
  • reduction in property values
     
 
FLEPPC Category I Aquatic Plants Found in Florida Public Waters

Common Name

Scientific Name

Aquatic soda appleSolanum tampicense
Giant salviniaSalvinia molesta
HydrillaHydrilla verticillata
HygrophilaHygrophila polysperma
Napier grassPennisetum purpureum
Para grassUrochloa mutica
TorpedograssPanicum repens
Water hyacinthEichhornia crassipes
Water lettucePistia stratiotes
Water spinachIpomoea aquatica
West Indian marsh grassHymenachne amplexicaulis
Wild taroColocasia esculenta

Last updated: 01 July 2014