It’s National Invasive Species Awareness Week—what better time to take a look at one of our worst invasive plants? An invasive plant is a plant one that is not endemic to a particular region or ecosystem and is able to outcompete native vegetation and cause disruption to local habitats. A good example in Southwest Florida is wedelia (Sphagneticola trilobata).
Originally introduced into the U.S. as an ornamental plant, it is a sprawling groundcover that can quickly blanket a wide area (and other plants) if permitted to thrive unchecked. It roots at nodes as the stems creep along the ground, and removal is difficult because it will resprout from any of those nodes if left behind.
For this reason, mowing wedelia is not advised because its spread can be compounded when small, chopped pieces spread into a larger area. Being in the Aster family, flowers are yellow and daisy-shaped, and can be confused with the islands’ native dune sunflower (Helianthus debilis).