Scientific name: ‘Paederia foetida.’ Common name: Skunk vine.

Invasive plants can create havoc in your yard by displacing native vegetation. Their populations explode, with catastrophic effects. Those include displacing native and non-native adaptive plants and disrupting naturally balanced plant communities. When our native and non-native adaptive plants are destroyed and replaced by invasive species, we encounter significant consequences. These include an aggressively hostile plant takeover, ecological problems such as habitat degradation or biodiversity loss, high management costs and significant impacts to recreational areas, which result in economic losses.

We want to reduce the number of invasive plants invading your yard. To help, UF/IFAS developed the Assessment of Non-native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas. This online resource, available at, provides information about invasive plants and invasive plant potential around the state and those under caution in other areas.

Note that the status of a plant can change from being acceptable to being a high invasion risk based on the above criteria. One such plant, Liriope (common names: monkey grass, lily turf and border grass), has been determined to be invasive. In the newly published “Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Guide to Plant Selection and Landscape Design,” this plant is no longer included.

Here are three of many of the ‘worst offenders’ among invasive plants:

  • Scientific name: Melaleuca quinquenervia.
    • Common name: Melaleuca, paper bark, punk tree.

      Prohibited in North, Central and South Florida. The only good thing about this tree is that the harvested byproduct is melaleuca mulch which has high termite resistance.

  • Scientific name: Paederia foetida.
    • Common name: Skunk vine.

      Prohibited and high invasion risk in North, Central and South Florida. It has a foul smell (thus the name) and is extremely difficult to control. This plant can well be an unfortunate ‘gift’ from and to your neighbors. Vines can reach a length of 30 feet.

  • Scientific name: Lantana strigocamara, Shrub Verbena.
    • Common name: Lantana.

      Invasive in North, Central and South Florida. All parts of this plant are toxic and have impacted livestock, pets and children, according to the Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, University of Florida IFAS. There are non-invasive varieties. Look for those.

The assessment uses science-based tools to evaluate the risk of invasion by non-native species, new species that might arrive here and novel agricultural and horticultural varieties. The assessment, in conjunction with the UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants and the UF/IFAS “Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Guide to Plant Selection and Landscape Design,” can provide you with the information you need to make appropriate plant selections. Let’s get outside and garden!

Contact Lynn Barber at

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