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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Try these "alter-natives" to common invasive species

Florida is uniquely varied in its climate and growing conditions, allowing for a huge variety of plants to thrive. But some of the plants that are common to our home landscapes are actually invasive species, many of which are now widespread in Florida's natural areas. Removing these species from your landscape and replacing them with native alternatives can help prevent the spread of invasive species and will provide suitable food and cover for native wildlife. 



Below are just a few of the commonly sold exotic invasive species, along with recommended "alter-natives." Click on the plant's common or scientific name to see photos as well as the plant's distribution into natural areas.

 Wildflowers and groundcovers    
Invasive: Wedelia (Wedelia trilobita, syn. Sphagneticolatrilobata) (FLEPPC CAT II)
Invasive: Lantana (Lantana camara) (FLEPPC CAT I)
Invasive: Mexican petunia (Ruellia simplex, syn. Ruellia brittoniana) (FLEPPC CAT I)
Alternative: Beach verbena (Glandularia maritima) (Click here to find a nursery in your area that sells Beach verbena.)
Alternative: Dune sunflower (Helianthus debilis)* (Click here to find a nursery in your area that sells Dune sunflower.) *See note at bottom of article.
Alternative: Powderpuff (Mimosa strigillosa) (Click here to find a nursery in your area that sells Powderpuff.)
Alternative: Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium) (Click here to find a nursery in your area that sells Blue-eyed grass.)


Helianthus debilis -- an excellent
"alter-native" to Wedelia
Mimosa strigillosa

 Low flowering shrubs 
Invasive: Coral ardisia (Ardisia crenata) (FLEPPC CAT I)
Invasive: Surinam cherry (Eugenia uniflora) (FLEPPC CAT I)
Invasive: Heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica) (FLEPPC CAT I
Invasive: Climbing cassia (Senna pendula var. glabra) (FLEPPC CAT I)
Alternative: Marlberry (Ardisia escallonioides) (Click here to find a nursery in your area that sells Marlberry.)
Alternative: Simpson's stopper (Myrcianthes fragrans) (Click here to find a nursery in your area that sells Simpson's stopper.)
Alternative: Wild coffee (Psychotria nervosa) (Click here to find a nursery in your area that sells Wild coffee.)
Alternative: Bahama senna (Senna mexicana var. chapmanii) or Privet senna (Senna ligustrina) (Click here to find a nursery in your area that sells Bahama or Privet senna.) 
Alternative: Walter's viburnum (Virbunum obovatum) (Click here to find a nursery in your area that sells Walter's viburnum.)

Ardisia escallonioides
(photo by Homer Edward Price)
Psychotria nervosa
(photo by Stacey Matrazzo)
 Flowering vines 
Invasive: Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) (FLEPPC CAT I)
Invasive: Gold coast jasmine (Jasminum dichotomum) (FLEPPC CAT I)
Invasive: Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) (FLEPPC CAT II)
Alternative: Coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) (Click here to find a nursery in your area that sells Coral honeysuckle.)
Alternative: Climbing aster (Symphyotricum carolinianum) (Click here to find a nursery in your area that sells Climbing aster.) 
Alternative: American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens) (Click here to find a nursery in your area that sells American wisteria.)

 
Wisteria frutescens (Photo by Shirley Denton,
Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants
)
Lonicera sempervirens (Photo by Terry Zinn)

 Grasses  
Invasive: Napier, Elephant or purple fountain grass (Pennisetum purpureum) (FLEPPC CAT I) 
Invasive: Green fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum) (FLEPPC CAT II)
Alternative: Elliott's lovegrass (Eragrostis elliottii) or Purple lovegrass (Eragrostis spectabilis) (Click here to find a nursery in your area that sells Elliott's or Purple lovegrass.)
Alternative: Muhlygrass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) (Click here to find a nursery in your area that sells Muhly grass.)
Muhlenbergia capillaris (Photo by Bill Randolph)


There are many native plant alternatives to common invasive exotic landscape plants. Check out the following resources for help selecting the right plant for your landscape:

*Note: There are three subspecies of Helianthus debilis occurring in Florida, all of which are capable of hybridizing and thus, should not be planted together. When using in a landscape or garden setting, it is recommended that the subspecies native to/appropriate for the region be used. Visit PlantRealFlorida.org to find a native nursery in your area that sells the appropriate subspecies for your region. Seeds of the East coast subspecies are available through the Florida Wildflowers Growers Cooperative.

To see where each subspecies of dune sunflower occurs naturally in Florida, visit www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=660, www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=3367 and www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=1249

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