Watch for these Invasive Plants in Palm Beach

Here on Palm Beach Island, we enjoy a temperate climate, plenty of sunshine, and abundant rainfall. Those three things combined mean that a variety of plants survive – and thrive! – in our community, from tropical ferns to desert palms.

The ideal growing conditions do have a downside, however. As it is so easy for many types of plants to grow here, invasive plants enjoy our sunshine, rain, and weather as well.

FAQs About Invasive Plants in the Town of Palm Beach

In this article, we’ll:

  • introduce some of the worst invasive species found on Palm Beach Island,
  • describe what to do if you find them,
  • explain why invasive plants are bad for your property, and
  • cover the local ordinances affecting what you can and cannot plant in the Town of Palm Beach.

What are invasive plants?

Invasive plants are often plants that originate from another area of the world. While not all introduced plants are bad, some can crowd out our native vegetation, hurting not only our native flora but also the animals, pollinators, and other living creatures that rely on native plants.

In some rare cases, a native plant can become invasive if it inhibits other plants to a great degree or if its spread is uncontrolled.

Some invasive plants can be destructive, causing damage to local agriculture. Others have allergenic or poisonous attributes that can harm pets or people.

In short, an invasive plant can often harm vegetation, animals, or people.

Invasive air potato vines cover a Florida property

Why are invasive plants bad for my property?

You may have heard the saying that “weeds are just plants in the wrong place,” which can be true. Invasive plants, however, are not only in the wrong place, but they are causing issues in that place.

If an invasive plant is growing on your property, it can cause harm to your other plants and trees. It may be dangerous for pets or passersby, or it could take over your property and spread to neighboring sites.

The Town of Palm Beach ordinance on prohibited plants mentions that invasive vegetation is:

“spreading rapidly…displacing native vegetation, destroying wildlife habitat and creating undesirable vegetative monocultures” and that some have “adverse affects (sic) on human health, hazards to public safety, and undesirable aesthetics in the Town of Palm Beach.”

Those are some very good reasons to try to prevent these plants on our island!

Does that mean I can’t plant whatever I want on my own property?

Just because a plant is beautiful and grows well in another part of the world with a similar climate doesn’t mean that it’s a good choice for your Palm Beach property. When plants are native and “well-behaved” in another part of the world, it’s usually because there are natural ways to curb its growth. But in South Florida, the plants may become invasive thanks to a lack of pests and animals to control the spread, ideal growing conditions, and more.

Certain invasive plants are now banned from being planted in an effort to protect our state.

The Town of Palm Beach has even listed several in the town ordinances as “prohibited.” Specifically, Ordinance 19-03 – Prohibited Plants.

Carrotwood, an invasive tree in Palm Beach

Carrotwood is considered invasive in Palm Beach

Which plants are invasive in Palm Beach?

Some of the worst invasive plants in Palm Beach include:

  • Air Potato vine (Dioscorea bulbifera)
  • Brazilian Pepper (Schinus terebinthefolius)
  • Punk or paper tree (Melaleuca quinquenervia)
  • Australian Pine (Casuarina)
  • Carrotwood (Cupaniopsis anacardiodies)
  • Earleaf Acacia (Acacia auriculiformis)
  • Kudzu (Pueraria montana lobata)
  • Japanese and Old World climbing ferns (Lygodium microphyllum)
  • Schefflera (Schefflera actinophylla)

All of the above are prohibited in the Town of Palm Beach. Though not listed, Old World climbing fern and Chinese Tallow are another invasive plant to be aware of.

You can find a comprehensive list of invasive plants in Florida on the University of Florida’s website, as well as weeds and other problem plants.

The Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council also publishes a complete list of Florida’s invasive plants.

How did invasive plants get to Palm Beach island?

A variety of the plants that are now considered invasive were brought to Florida and Palm Beach island from other areas, but they quickly took over and crowded out our native plants.

I didn’t plant them so why are invasive plants on my property?

Planting non-native species isn’t the only way that invasives can occur in your yard. Birds and other animals that eat the fruit or seeds of an invasive plant can bring those seeds to your yard. Compost can also contain seeds that you may not want. Even strong winds and ocean currents can help invasive species to spread.

What can be done to prevent the spread of invasive plants?

One of the best ways to prevent invasive plants from taking over your property is to always install native plants. That means only planting trees, shrubs, vines, and plants that are naturally occurring in our area of Florida. Not only will those species thrive, but they will benefit the local ecosystem, provide shelter and food for native wildlife, and help to sustain our unique plant life.

This is one of the reasons that the Palm Beach Town Council recently passed a measure that requires all new landscaping to consist of at least 35% native plants.

Identification and speedy removal of invasive plants will also help stop them from taking over our beautiful island. How ever these plants make it to your property, it is vital to recognize the plants and remove them as soon as possible, before they have the opportunity to spread even more.

Reading articles such as this one means that you’re already more prepared to recognize and eradicate any plants that are in the wrong place.

A property maintained by Coastal Gardens in Palm Beach

Call on Coastal Gardens to Keep Your Property Free of Invasive Plants

If your property is maintained by the estate gardening experts at Coastal Gardens, you can be confident that our team is always on the lookout for any issues, including invasive plants!
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