Invasive Exotic Plants Are Not Welcome In My Backyard And Are Harmful To Local Wildlife.

I was recently asked, “So what is wrong with invasive exotic plants; they look beautiful, do well, and provide fruit and flowers for wildlife?”  The answer is that over thousands of years the flowering and fruiting of our native plants have become fine-tuned to match the needs of local and migrating birds.  Caterpillars eat young spring growth and are fed to nestlings by their parents.  Successful exotics are often invasive. They crowd out natives, resulting in less variety of fruit, seeds and nuts for birds to eat during the year.  Think of Brazilian pepper; its berries are bird junk food for a short time of the year and the foliage doesn’t support insects for birds to eat the rest of the year. It is unsuitable to nest in due to its open growth which leaves chicks exposed to predators.

Palm Beach County spends over two million dollars a year removing exotic plants from our natural areas and I’ll bet that many of you just spent hundreds or thousands of dollars removing invasive plants from your property.  Maybe you spent another hour trying to pull up that Purple Shower plant that is now firmly established in your lawn and flower beds.  This weed invades wetlands like Everglades National Park and is resistant to Roundup.  Just go to your local garden store and there it is being sold as “Florida Friendly”.  I cringe when I see this category 1 invasive plant being used in so called “Butterfly Gardens” and local parks.

What you can do to stop the sale of invasive plants is simple.  Go to FLEPPC.org and download the list of invasive plants.  Then remove what you have and don’t ones on the list.  It is up to you because if you buy it, someone will grow and sell it.  The nursery industry on its own has stopped producing many invasive plants like carrotwood and earleaf acacia. Yet who can blame them for growing and selling something invasive that people ask for regularly?….. Well, actually I do because it is unethical.

Not all exotic plants are bad.  Bougainvillea, roses, petrea and crape myrtle don’t spread by seed or underground roots, so it is possible to have the added color of flowering exotics without the guilt.  You can make a difference in how our tax and personal money is spent on exotic plant removal by not buying invasive plants and removing the ones that you have before they spread to a local natural area.