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Invasive Exotic Plant Species

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Collier County is home to an estimated 70 exotic plants. Exotic plants are species that evolved in different ecosystems and have few native predators and diseases. The lack of native controls allows them to out compete native plants altering the balance in native habitats. These plants often are unable to support the diverse wildlife communities common to Florida.
Purple Flower

Are All Exotic Plants Bad?
NO! All Exotic Plants are not bad.

An exotic plant is considered "bad" when it begins to disrupt native plant communities.

These plants are described as invasive exotic plants . Invasive exotic plants are the "weeds" of our natural landscapes (Langeland, 1998). These weeds form self-sustaining populations within our natural plant communities and ultimately eliminate the desirable plants that comprise these natural areas. We are then left with an unnatural area full of "weeds" that has lost many of its desirable qualities. Many of these "weeds" have adverse ecological and economic impact and may pose severe public health and safety concerns.

Why Remove Exotics?
Invasive exotic plants threaten wildlife habitats and displace native plants that are important to Florida's ecology. They can out compete most native plants because they grow quickly and are not easily affected by native pests and diseases. Some exotic plants growing near residential areas cause allergic reactions in people. These spreading exotics are difficult and expensive to remove, and diminish the diversity of wildlife. The more these species grow and spread, the bigger the problem becomes.

Federal, State, and local governments have spent more than $3,000,000 removing exotic plants. You can help reduce the burden on taxpayers by removing exotics on your property.

How To Remove Exotics
Exotic plant control techniques include manual removal, mechanical removal, and herbicide treatments.

Herbicide treatments are the most effective and economical way to kill exotic plants with minimal risk to the neighboring native species. Examples of herbicide treatments involve stump, surface, and spray applications.

The most effective method of removal for each of the listed species is included on the species profile pages.

Living With Exotic Plants
Many homeowners with established exotic plant species on their property can maintain them in a way that minimizes their impact on local habitats:

  1. Learn how to tell the invasive exotics from other species.
  2. Shrubs and vines should be removed before they can smother other species.
  3. Seedlings from established trees can be pulled before they become too large.
  4. If and when possible remove large trees and replace them with native vegetation.

Content updated Tuesday, July 26, 2016

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