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Publication #ENH1222

Alternatives to Invasive Plants Commonly Found in South Florida Landscapes1

Gary W. Knox, Sandra B. Wilson, Zhanao Deng, and Rosanna Freyre2

Invasive plants are non-native plants that form expanding populations in natural areas and other plant communities with which they were not previously associated (Langeland 2015). Invasive plants can cause ecological impacts such as displacing native plants and associated wildlife or altering natural water flow and fire patterns.

Some ornamentals listed as invasive by the University of Florida IFAS Assessment of Non-Native Plants in Florida's Natural Areas or by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council are still in commercial production and widely found in Florida landscapes. Homeowners might replace invasive plants if non-invasive alternatives are researched, publicized and made readily available. By shifting production and use from invasive ornamentals to native or non-invasive cultivars, the nursery and landscape industry could benefit from potential revenue while fostering greater collaboration with state agencies and environmental groups.

University of Florida research and Extension efforts over the last 10 years have focused on identifying non-invasive alternatives by assessing the invasive traits of popular non-native ornamentals, related genera, and their cultivars. In more recent years, University of Florida breeding efforts have focused on producing and trialing new non-invasive cultivars. Table 1 lists alternatives (both native and non-invasive, non-native ornamentals) to invasive plants commonly used in Florida landscapes. Only plants considered to be generally available in the nursery trade are listed. Alternative plants are similar to respective invasive plants as much as possible in terms of size, habit, texture, and flower color. Non-native, non-invasive plants in Table 1 were determined to be non-invasive (with assessments of “not a problem species” or “may be used with caution”) by the IFAS Assessment of Non-Native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas (http://assessment.ifas.ufl.edu/) or have not yet been evaluated.

References

Enloe, S.F. and K.A. Langeland. 2018. “Help protect Florida's natural areas from non-native invasive plants.” Circular1204. Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. February 1998. Revised August 2018. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ag108

Lieurance, Deah, S. Luke Flory and Doria R. Gordon. 2013, rev. 2016. The UF/IFAS Assessment of Nonnative Plants in Florida's Natural Areas: History, Purpose, and Use. SS-AGR-371. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ag376

Wilson, S. B., J. A. Gersony, K. L. Nolan, J. C. Broda, and E. A. Skvarch, Jr. September 2014, reviewed October 2017. Recommended Native Landscape Plants for Florida's Treasure Coast. ENH1082. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep348

Tables

Table 1. 

Invasive ornamentals commonly found in south Florida landscapes and commonly available native and non-native, non-invasive substitutes. Scientific names are those used by the UF/IFAS Assessment of Non-native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas (http://assessment.ifas.ufl.edu/), the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System (https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomysimple.aspx), and the Atlas of Florida Plants by the Institute for Systematic Biology (http://florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Default.aspx).

Invasive ornamentalz

 

Scientific Name

Common Name

Native substitute

Non-native, non-invasive substitutez

Ardisia crenata

Coral ardisia

Ardisia escallonioides, Marlberry

Callicarpa americana, American beautyberry

Chrysobalanus icaco, Cocoplum

Citharexylum spinosum, Fiddlewood

Hamelia patens, Firebush

Ilex vomitoria, Yaupon holly

Myrsine cubana, Myrsine

Psychotria ligustrifolia, Bahama wild coffee

Psychotria nervosa, Wild coffee

Viburnum obovatum, Walter's viburnum, small-leaf viburnum

Acalypha wilkesiana, Wilkes’ copperleaf, Jacob’s coat

Bauhinia variegata

Mountain ebony, orchid tree

Bourreria succulenta, Bahama strongbark

Canella winterana, Pepper cinnamon, cinnamon bark, wild cinnimon

Cynophalla flexuosa, Bayleaf capertree

Erythrina herbacea, Coralbean, Cherokee-bean

Guaiacum sanctum, Holywood ignum-vitae

Myrcianthes fragrans, Simpson’s stopper, twinberry

Piscidia piscipula, Jamaican dogwood, Fish-poison tree

Vachellia choriophylla, Cinnecord

Vachellia farnesiana, Sweet acacia

Bauhinia × blakeana, Hong Kong orchid tree, Blake’s bauhinia

Cassia afrofistula, Dwarf golden shower

Cassia fistula, Golden shower

Clerodendrum quadriloculare, Starburst clerodendrum

Cordia boissieri, White cordia, Mexican olive

Dombeya burgessiae, Seminole dombeya, Tropical rose hydrangea

Gardenia thunbergia, White gardenia

Tabernaemontana divaricata, Cape jasmine

Tibouchina granulosa, Glory bush, princessflower

Bischofia javanica

Japanese bishopwood

Juniperus virginiana, Red cedar

Pinus elliottii, Slash pine

Taxodium distichum, Bald cypress

Juniperus chinensis 'Torulosa', Torulosa juniper, Chinese juniper

Platycladus orientalis, Arborvitae, Oriental arborvitae

Podocarpus macrophyllus, Podocarpus, Japanese yew

Casuarina equisetifolia

Australian pine, horsetail casuarina

Juniperus virginiana, Red cedar

Pinus elliottii, Slash pine

Taxodium distichum, Bald cypress

Juniperus chinensis 'Torulosa', Torulosa juniper, Chinese juniper

Platycladus orientalis, Arborvitae, Oriental arborvitae

Podocarpus macrophyllus, Podocarpus, Japanese yew

Colocasia esculenta

Elephant ear, wild taro

Crinum americanum, String-lily, Florida swamp-lily

Hymenocallis latifolia, Mangrove spider-lily

Cordyline fruticosa, Ti plant, broadleaf palm-lily

Crinum asiaticum, Grand crinum lily, Asiatic poisonbulb

Monstera deliciosa, Cut-leaf philodendron, split-leaf philodendron

Philodendron bipinnatifidum, Selloum philodendron

Cupaniopsis anacardioides

Carrotwood

Conocarpus erectus, Buttonwood, button mangrove

Piscidia piscipula, Jamaican dogwood, fish-poison tree

Sapindus saponaria, Soapberry, soaptree

Simarouba glauca, Paradise tree

Ficus rubiginosa, Rusty fig, littleleaf fig

Peltophorum dubium, Horsebush, yellow poinciana

Terminalia bucerasy (syn. Bucida buceras), Black olive

Dioscorea bulbifera

Air-potato

Campsis radicans, Trumpet creeper

Jacquemontia pentanthos, Key West morning glory, Skyblue clustervine

Lonicera sempervirens, Coral honeysuckle, trumpet honeysuckle

Aristolochia littoralis, Calico flower

See Flowering Vines for Florida (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/mg097) for additional vines

Eugenia uniflora

Surinam cherry

Ardisia escallonioides, Marlberry

Bourreria succulenta, Bodywood, Bahama strongbark

Calyptranthes pallens, Spicewood

Citharexylum spinosum, Fiddlewood

Forestiera segregata, Florida swampprivet

Guaiacum sanctum, Holywood lignum-vitae

Myrcianthes fragrans, Simpson’s stopper, twinberry

Myrsine cubana, Myrsine

Psychotria nervosa, Wild coffee

Myrciaria cauliflora, Jaboticaba

Pittosporum tobira, Japanese cheesewood, Japanese pittosporum

Jasminum dichotomum

Gold coast jasmine

Ernodea littoralis, Beach creeper

Hymenocallis latifolia, Mangrove spider-lily

Mimosa strigillosa, Powderpuff

Stachytarpheta jamaicensis, Blue porterweed, Joee

Jasminum laurifolium, Angelwing jasmine

Jasminum multiflorum, Star jasmine

Solandra grandiflora, Chalicevine, solandra

Lantana camara

Lantana, shrub verbena

Byrsonima lucida, Long Key locustberry

Hamelia patens, Firebush

Lantana involucrata, Buttonsage

Lycium carolinianum, Christmasberry

Salvia coccinea, Tropical sage, red salvia

Sophora tomentosa subsp. truncata, Yellow necklacepod

Stachytarpheta jamaicensis, Blue porterweed, Joee

Varronia globosa, Curacao bush

Lagerstroemia spp., Crapemyrtle (dwarf forms)

Lantana camara ‘UF-T3’x, UF-T3 lantana (sterile)

Lantana camara ‘UF-T4’x, UF-T4 lantana (sterile)

Lantana camara ‘UF-1011-2’x, Bloomify™ Rose lantana (sterile)

Lantana camara ‘UF-1013A-2A’x, Bloomify™ Red lantana (sterile)

Rosa spp., Rose

Lonicera japonica

Japanese honeysuckle

Campsis radicans, Trumpet creeper

Lonicera sempervirens, Coral honeysuckle, trumpet honeysuckle

Symphyotrichum carolinianum, Climbing aster

Trachelospermum jasminoides, Confederate jasmine

See Flowering Vines for Florida (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/mg097) for additional vines

Melaleuca quinquenervia

Melaleuca, paper bark, punk tree

Annona glabra, Pond apple

Conocarpus erectus var. sericeus, Silver buttonwood

Conocarpus erectus, Buttonwood, button mangrove

Magnolia virginiana, Sweetbay

Simarouba glauca, Paradise-tree

Callistemon rigidus, Bottlebrush, erect bottlebrush, stiff bottlebrush

Callistemon viminalis, Bottlebrush, weeping bottlebrush

Podocarpus macrophyllus, Podocarpus, Japanese yew

Psidium cattleianum

Strawberry guava

Annona glabra, Pond apple

Bourreria succulenta, Bahama strongbark

Calyptranthes pallens, Spicewood

Canella winterana, Pepper cinnamon, cinnamon bark, wild cinnimon

Citharexylum spinosum, Fiddlewood

Coccoloba diversifolia, Pigeon plum, tie-tongue

Cynophalla flexuosa, Bayleaf capertree

Erythrina herbacea, Coralbean, Cherokee-bean

Guaiacum sanctum, Holywood lignum-vitae

Guapira discolor, Blolly, beeftree

Ilex cassine, Dahoon holly, dahoon

Myrcianthes fragrans, Simpson’s stopper, twinberry

Sambucus nigra subsp. canadensis, Elderberry, American elder

Simarouba glauca, Paradise-tree

Vachellia choriophylla, Cinnecord

Lagerstroemia spp., Crapemyrtle

Macadamia integrifolia, Macadamia nut

Noronhia emarginata, Madagascar olive

Pimenta dioica, Allspice tree

Pimenta racemosa, Bay rum tree, West Indian bay

Ruellia simplex

Mexican petunia

Crinum americanum, String-lily, Florida swamp-lily

Stachytarpheta jamaicensis, Blue porterweed, Joee

Bougainvillea glabra, Bougainvillea, paper flower

Bougainvillea spectabilis, Great bougainvillea, purple bougainvillea

Ixora coccinea, Ixora, scarlet jungleflame

Ruellia simplex (formerly brittoniana), 'Purple Showers'y, 'Purple Showers' Mexican petunia (sterile, non-invasive by seed dispersal)

Ruellia simplex R10-105-Q54y, Mayan Pink Mexican petunia (sterile, non-invasive by seed dispersal)

Ruellia simplex ‘R10-102’y, Mayan Purple Mexican petunia (sterile, non-invasive by seed dispersal)

Ruellia simplex ‘R10-108’y, Mayan White Mexican petunia (sterile, non-invasive by seed dispersal)

Ruellia simplex ‘R12-2-1’y, Mayan Compact Purple Mexican petunia (sterile, non-invasive by seed dispersal)

Russelia equisetiformis, Coral plant, firecracker plant

Vernonia gigantea, Giant ironweed

Scaevola taccada var. sericea

Beach naupaka, half-flower, scaevola

Chrysobalanus icaco 'Horizontal', 'Horizontal' Cocoplum

Genipa clusiifolia, Sevenyear apple

Heliotropium gnaphalodes, Sea lavender, sea rosemary

Scaevola plumieri, Beachberry, inkberry

Sophora tomentosa subsp. truncata, Yellow necklacepod

Suriana maritima, Bay cedar

Yucca aloifolia, Spanish bayonet, aloe yucca

Carissa macrocarpa, Amatungulu, Natal plum

Pittosporum tobira, Japanese pittosporum, Japanese cheesewood

Schefflera actinophylla

Australian umbrella tree, octopus tree, Queensland umbrella tree

Canella winterana, Pepper cinnamon, cinnamon bark, wild cinnimon

Guapira discolor, Blolly, beeftree

Simarouba glauca, Paradise-tree

Beaucarnea recurvata, Ponytail palm

Pandanus utilis, Screwpine

Ravenala madagascariensis, Traveler’s palm, traveler’s tree

Strelitzia nicolai, White bird of paradise

Schinus terebinthifolius

Brazilian pepper

Ardisia escallonioides, Marlberry

Calyptranthes pallens, Spicewood

Citharexylum spinosum, Fiddlewood

Erythrina herbacea, Coralbean, Cherokee-bean

Forestiera segregata, Florida swampprivet

Hamelia patens, Firebush

Ilex cassine, Dahoon holly, dahoon

Ilex vomitoria, Yaupon holly

Miconia bicolor, Tetrazygia, Florida clover ash

Myrcianthes fragrans, Simpson’s stopper, twinberry

Morella cerifera, Wax myrtle, southern bayberry

Myrsine cubana, Myrsine

Psychotria nervosa, Wild coffee

Sambucus nigra subsp. canadensis, Elderberry, American elder

Viburnum obovatum, Walter's viburnum, small-leaf viburnum

Viburnum odoratissimum, Sweet viburnum

Viburnum odoratissimum var. awabuki, Awabuki sweet viburnum

Viburnum suspensum, Sandankwa viburnum, viburnum

Senna pendula var. glabrata

Christmas senna, Christmas cassia, climbing cassia

Guaiacum sanctum, Holywood lignum-vitae

Sambucus nigra subsp. canadensis, Elderberry, American elder

Senna ligustrina, Privet wild sensitive plant

Senna mexicana var. chapmanii, Chapman’s senna

Sophora tomentosa subsp. truncata, Yellow necklacepod

Senna polyphylla, Desert cassia

Senna surattensis, Glossy shower

Tabermaemontana divaricata, Cape jasmine

Sphagneticola trilobata

Wedelia

Ernodea littoralis, Beach creeper

Helianthus debilis, Dune sunflower, beach sunflower

Hymenocallis latifolia, Mangrove spider-lily

Mimosa strigillosa, Powderpuff

Stachytarpheta jamaicensis, Blue porterweed, Joee

Zamia integrifolia, Coontie, Florida arrowroot

Arachis glabrata, Rhizoma perennial peanut

Juniperus chinensis 'Parsonii', Parson's Chinese juniper

Trachelospermum asiaticum, Asiatic jasmine, dwarf jasmine

Zamia furfuraceay, Cardboard cycad, Cardboard palm

Syzygium

cumini

Jambolan, Java plum

Bursera simaruba, Gumbo limbo

Ficus aurea, Strangler fig

Morus rubra, Red mulberry

Quercus laurifolia, Laurel oak

Quercus virginiana, Live oak, southern live oak

Sideroxylon foetidissimum, False mastic

Swietenia mahagoni, West Indian mahogany

Azadirachta indica, Neem, Indian-lilac, nimtree

Ficus elastica, Indian rubber rubber tree, Indian rubber plant, rubber tree

Ficus lyrata, Fiddleleaf fig

Ficus rubiginosa, Rusty fig, littleleaf fig

Peltophorum dubium, Horsebush, yellow poinciana

Terminalia bucerasy (syn. Bucida buceras), Black olive

Talipariti tiliaceum

Sea hibiscus, mahoe

Bursera simaruba, Gumbo limbo

Clusia rosea, Pitchapple, Scotch-attorney

Piscidia piscipula, Jamaican dogwood, fish-poison tree

Cassia fistula, Golden shower

Cassia javanica, Apple blossom cassia, Pink shower

Ficus elastica, Rubber tree, India rubber fig, India rubber tree

Ficus lyrata, Fiddleleaf fig

Triadica sebifera

Chinese tallow tree, popcorn tree

Acer rubrum, Red maple

Bourreria succulenta, Bahama strongbark

Conocarpus erectus var. sericeus, Silver buttonwood

Conocarpus erectus, Buttonwood, button mangrove

Guapira discolor, Blolly, beeftree

Liquidambar styraciflua, Sweetgum

Platanus occidentalis, American sycamore, American planetree

Sapindus saponaria, Soapberry, soaptree

Simarouba glauca, Paradise-tree

Jacaranda mimosifolia, Jacaranda, green-ebony, black poui

Lagerstroemia spp., Crapemyrtle

Peltophorum dubium, Horsebush, yellow poinciana

zAs listed by the University of Florida/IFAS Status Assessment, http://assessment.ifas.ufl.edu/.

yNon-invasive cultivar derived from the invasive species as determined by the University of Florida/IFAS Infraspecific Taxon Protocol (Lieurance, Deah, S. Luke Flory and Doria R. Gordon. 2013, rev. 2016. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ag376).

Footnotes

1.

This document is ENH1222, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date September 2013. Revised August 2018. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Gary W. Knox, Extension specialist and professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, North Florida Research and Education Center, Quincy, FL; Sandra B. Wilson, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, Gainesville, FL; Zhanao Deng, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, Wimauma, FL; and Rosanna Freyre, research scientist, Environmental Horticulture Department, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Gainesville, FL, 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.