Dirty Word of the Day: Invasive Plant Species

Invasive Plant Species

There must have been plenty of them about, growing up quietly and inoffensively, with nobody taking any particular notice of them…. And so the one in our garden continued its growth peacefully, as did thousands like it in neglected spots all over the world…. It was some little time later that the first one picked up its roots and walked. ~ John Wyndham, The Day of the Triffids

An invasive plant species is a plant that has or is likely to spread into native flora and managed plant systems, develop self-sustaining populations, and become dominant or disruptive (or both) to those systems. Invasive species comprise both native and nonnative species. The Florida Invasive Species Council FISC compiles invasive species lists that are revised every two years. Professional botanists and others perform exhaustive studies to determine invasive plants that should be placed on the lists.

Invasive plants are termed Category I invasive when they are altering native plant communities by displacing native species, changing community structures or

ecological functions, or hybridizing with natives. This definition does not rely on the economic severity or geographic range of the problem, but on the documented ecological damage caused. Category II invasive plants have increased in abundance or frequency but have not yet altered Florida plant communities to the extent shown by Category I species. These species may become Category I if ecological damage is demonstrated.

Researchers and extension professionals recently identified "exotic" as one of the 6 terms to avoid when communicating about invasive species (native invasive, invasive weed, alien, foreign, and nonindigenous have also been included). Misuse and misinterpretation of these terms create confusion in invasive species communication.

Photo credit: Teresa Watkins

Source: Iannone III, B. V., Carnevale, S., Main, M. B., Hill, J. E., McConnell, J. B., Johnson, S. A., Enloe, S. F., Andreu, M., Bell, E. C., Cuda, J. P., & Baker, S. M. (2020). Invasive Species Terminology: Standardizing for Stakeholder Education. Journal of Ex. “Https://Floridainvasivespecies.Org/Definitions.Cfm.” Florida Invasive Species Council, 2024, bit.ly/49s0Kp2.

Reichard, Sarah Hayden, and Peter White. “Horticulture as a Pathway of Invasive Plant Introductions in the United States: Most Invasive Plants Have Been Introduced for Horticultural Use by Nurseries, Botanical Gardens, and Individuals.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 1 Feb. 2001, academic.oup.com/bioscience/article/51/2/103/390610.

Photo: Teresa Watkins

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