Non-Native Invasive Plants
Non-native plants, also referred to as exotic or alien, are plants that have been introduced to an area from their native range, either purposefully or accidentally. The term non-native usually refers to plants from other countries, regions, or continents. Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) comes from South America. Melaleuca (Melaleuca quinquenervia) comes from Australia. However, non-native can also mean plants from another region within the same country. Smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora), a desirable native plant on the U.S. Atlantic coast, is invasive on the Pacific coast, covering oyster beds and other vital habitat.
Approximately 1,400 of Florida’s plants are non-native in their origin. Most non-natives do not cause problems and support human health and economic interests such as crop production and landscaping. These plants are well managed by those who grow them. Problems are often in highly disturbed areas such as roadsides or along utility corridors. Based on the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council’s (FLEPPC) 2017 List of Invasive Plant Species, about 11% of the nearly 1,400 exotic species introduced into Florida have become established outside of cultivation and are causing problems. About 6% (79) are considered to be invasive.