Stopping the Invasion

Native plant communities evolve with a complex relationship of natural controls that keep them in balance. These include environmental restraints, diseases, insects, herbivores, and species competition. Invasive exotic plants lack these natural control mechanisms thus allowing rapid expansion of their numbers which damages valuable natural lands. Successful management of exotics should include manual or mechanical removal, herbicide treatment if needed, and routine follow-up.

Manual Removal

Manual removal is labor intensive and on small plants works best in loose soil or sand. When removing seedlings and small trees, every effort should be made to remove the entire root system because small sections of roots are capable of resprouting. If the plant is currently in seed, several "weedings" may be necessary. Caution should be taken for sensitive persons removing Brazilian pepper as it may cause a rash and blistering.

Mechanical Removal

Bulldozers or backhoes are often employed to help rid construction or habitat restoration sites of invasive exotics. This method is rarely successful in the elimination of Australian pine or Brazilian pepper. Root fragments quickly resprout and disturbance of the soil creates an ideal environment for seed germination and invasion from other non-native opportunistic species. Intense follow-up with other control methods is essential.

Herbicide Treatment

All three of our most prevalent invasives, Brazilian pepper, Latherleaf, and Australian pine can effectively be controlled by the proper application of herbicides. The types of applications, cut-stump and basal bark, are used depending on the situation. Cut-stump and basal bark treatments are best suited for Australian pine and Brazilian pepper. The best method depends on whether or not standing dead trees are acceptable. Triclopyr products are the most effective. The sprawling habit of Latherleaf sometimes makes it difficult to locate the trunk and may require cutting "tunnels" to access the multiple trunks.