The Invasion of Alien Species

Exotic or alien plant species are non-native plants which have been introduced intentionally or accidentally to a geographic region in which they did not previously exist. Because they are foreign to the locale, they are not kept in check by the local predators and competitors. Once naturalized in the ecosystems, they often become very invasive. These invasive species displace the native species that should inhabit the area. If a native plant disappears, all the insects, birds, and other animals that depend on it are also imperiled.

As a homeowner, you can help prevent the spread of invasive plants by removing them from your landscape and replacing them with native species that are adapted to your region. Not only are native plants quite beautiful, they also require much less upkeep with reduced watering and minimal pest management. You can view a few of Florida's pest plants in our invasive plant species gallery. You can also visit the website of the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council to view the latest list of invasive and pest plants. For more information about “going native,” visit the Florida Native Plant Society website where you can find the nearest Chapter whose members are always glad to help newcomers learn about native plants. You can locate sellers of native plants at the website of the Association of Florida Native Nurseries.

Many of our Native Plants are in Decline

As of 2010, almost 500 of Florida's plant species receive some type of federal and/or state protection.

  • 44 Federally endangered
  • 10 Federally threatened
  • 431 Florida endangered
  • 115 Florida threatened

Unfortunately, this number continues to grow as the pressures of development increase on Florida's remaining wildlands.

The Semaphore Cactus (Opuntia corallicola) is a species whose endangered status is easily understood. Less than a dozen individuals survive in the wild in a Florida Keys preserve. It has been extirpated from all the other Florida Keys. These plants appear to be all male. Fortunately, there is still hope for this species as captive-bred plants are being reintroduced to other protected sites.

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