Invasives are trees, shrubs, vines and other species that threaten our native plants. They are introduced either deliberately or unintentionally to an area outside of their natural habitats. Not necessarily destructive in their own home environments, these species have the ability to establish themselves and out-compete natives, essentially taking over the environments.
An example of an invasive species we have here in Fort Lauderdale is the Melaleuca tree which was introduced to Florida in the early 1900's from Australia. Initially introduced as a solution for drying up the swampland, the trees became a major threat to the Everglades. Arborists are now working statewide to reverse this problem and remove the offending trees, and we too have a Melaleuca removal policy.
What harm comes from invasive trees and plants?
Invasives are not all alike, some are more aggressive than others. However, they are all a problem because they disrupt natural habitats. Invasives reduce biodiversity by killing other plant life and thereby threatening the animal life that uses those plants as food. If even one type of animal disappears from an area's food chain, that could result in a major ecological disturbance.
Invasives thrive because they tend to:
- Produce large numbers of new plants each season
- Tolerate many soil types and weather conditions
- Spread easily and efficiently, usually by wind, water, or animals
- Grow rapidly, allowing them to displace slower growing plants
- Spread rampantly when they are free of the natural checks and balances found in their native range
Which trees and plants are invasive to South Florida?
There are many! However, there are five trees or tree-like plants that are causing problems in the South Florida region. They are Australian Pine, Brazilian Pepper, Camphor, Melaleuca and Tree Bamboo. You can learn about other invasives by scanning our exotic pest plant list.
What we do?
Our City Forester works closely our Departments of Sustainable Development and Parks & Recreation, as well as County and State authorities, to recommend sound policies and practices for our City. When all parties agree that a particular species threatens our environment, our economy, or our health and welfare, steps may be taken to remove that species. The City will also follow directives issued by the State and other authorities relative to invasive trees and plants.
- Use the resources here to become familiar with the names and appearance of invasive trees and plants in our area.
- Regularly scan your private property for invasives.
- Remove invasive plants as soon as you see them on your property to prevent their spread. If you find that the invasive is coming from trees or plants in neighboring yards, approach the owner. Be friendly and aim to educate. Ask for removal.
- Only use non-invasive plants when landscaping your property.
- If your property borders a natural area, consider using only native (not just Florida-friendly)plants in your landscape.
- Use systemic herbicides carefully as a last resort to remove invasive plants
- If you see invasives in the public space, such as on swales or in parks, contact Customer Service at (954) 828-8000 or online, or report it using the I'veGot1 App (available for iPhone and Android devices.)
The Arboretum offers general information about invasives in the United States on a region-by-region basis, and then links to specific information for Florida.
Their site has links to even more resources, as well as the latest area assessments and great eduational materials.