Invasive Species Management

What Are Invasive Species?

Invasive species are introduced plants and animals that cause harm to the environment, the economy, and/or human health. Often displacing native species, these invaders skew the delicate native balance between animals, plants, and important processes such as water flow and fire. Florida is a good breeding ground for invasives due to tropical weather conditions and rising temperatures which allow certain plants to spread prolifically.

Exotic Plants

Exotic plants are those that have been introduced, either purposefully or accidentally, from a natural range outside of Florida. Not all exotics are invasive; only those that have been shown to significantly alter habitat or biological processes. Every two years, the Florida Invasive Species Council releases an Invasive Plants List. Category I plants have been shown to alter native plant communities by displacing native species, changing community structure or ecological functions, or hybridizing with neighbors. Category II plants have increased in abundance or frequency but have not yet altered Florida plant communities to the extent of Category I plants.

The most common invasive plants currently seen throughout the county may include but are not limited to: air potato, asparagus fern, Australian pine, Brazilian pepper, Caesar’s weed, chinaberry, Chinese tallow, cogon grass, coral ardisia, giant reed, golden bamboo, hydrilla, Japanese climbing fern, lantana, Mexican petunia, mimosa, Mother-of-Millons, tropical soda apple and others. Certain invasive species are more prevalent in particular areas.

University of Florida Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants has a searchable plant list of many different types of invasive plants that could be found in the county.

The First Coast Invasive Working Group (FCIWG) is a group that works across Federal, State, Local, and private lands for invasive species management.