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 the 1898 post card (above) of the St Johns River. Note, however, that the flowers depicted in the inset are incorrect for water hyacinth.

Hydrilla mat covering the surface of Lake OkeechobeeHydrilla 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 apple Solanum tampicense
Giant salvinia Salvinia molesta
Hydrilla Hydrilla verticillata
Hygrophila Hygrophila polysperma
Napier grass Pennisetum purpureum
Para grass Urochloa mutica
Torpedograss Panicum repens
Water hyacinth Eichhornia crassipes
Water lettuce Pistia stratiotes
Water spinach Ipomoea aquatica
West Indian marsh grass Hymenachne amplexicaulis
Wild taro Colocasia esculenta