Florida is a botanically diverse state. There are approximately 4,200 identified plants in the state with nearly 3,000 of these being natives. This biodiversity needs to be protected but can be severly disrupted when a non-native becomes aggressive and begins to overtake the native plant community. Whether the invasive plant was introduced accidentally or intentionally, the battle against these invaders is costly. At Corkscrew, invasive plant management is achieved through a rigorous regiment of prescribed fires, manual removal, and herbicide application.
Among plants, problem species include Australian Melaleuca (Melaleuca quinquenervia), Old-World Climbing Fern (Lygodium microphyllum), Brazilian Pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius), and Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) to name a few.
While some of these species can be eradicated by mowing or pulling out of the ground, most cannot be killed without the use of herbicides. In fact, some species like Melaleuca will set seed or sprout new trees if burned, cut, or otherwise disturbed. Herbicide use is an acceptable and necessary means of invasive plant control. The most common herbicides in use at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary are Glyphosate (e.g. Round-Up, Aquaneat, etc.) and Triclopyr (e.g. Garlon). These herbicides are very safe when used in accordance with the manufacturer's safety guidelines. Application techniques employed at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary limit exposure as well as damage to non-target plants.
One of the easiest things you can do to combat invasive plants is simply not plant them. There are numerous organizations that can help you with identifying natives to plant in your area. Educating yourself and others on the invasive plant and animal problem is also a great way to help. Another avenues is contacting your local, state, and/or federal representatives and voice your concerns about the impacts invasive plants and animals are having. Want a more active approach...volunteer in your area! Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary has a great volunteer program!