Everglades Invasive Species: Brazilian Pepper

brazilian pepperIn an earlier article, we discussed the Hole-in-the-Donut Wetland Restoration Project happening in the Everglades. A big part of this restoration is getting rid of the invasive species the Brazilian pepper. This plant is hurting the plant life around it, so it’s essential it is removed so native plants can thrive. It is one of the most invasive plants in the state of Florida.

The Brazilian Pepper is also known as the schinus terebinthifolius.  It is native to Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay.  This plant is an evergreen that is bushy with multiple stemmed trunks and branches. Its leaves are 3-inches long. It produces white flower clusters and red berries.

The Brazilian pepper plant made its way to North America in the 1840s. it was brought here to be an ornamental plant in people’s yards and properties. However, this plant has become invasive and spread itself into farmlands, pinelands, roadsides, hardwood hammocks, and mangrove forests.

It is an aggressive plant and it keeps native vegetation from growing. How? It produces a chemical that suppresses the growth of other plants. The Brazilian pepper is fire resistant and salt-tolerant.

This plant isn’t even good for humans as its chemicals can also irritate skin and the respiratory system through its leaves, berries, and flowers.

Researchers continue to look for ways to manage and tame this invasive species. Around 200 insects eat this plant, so there is a chance these insects will be released to help control the plant and its growth. Herbicides are also helping to control this plant.

This plant is a living organism, but it is not native to the Everglades, so it’s causing a lot of problems for native plants. We want the native plants to survive here, so it is important to reduce or eradicate the invasive species in order for the survival of the native ones.

Explore the Everglades in an Airboat

Come and check out all the beautiful native species in the Everglades on an airboat ride. You’ll get to see lots of wildlife and plant life as you zip on by in the water. To book an airboat tour, call Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours at 800-368-0065 or click our Private Everglades Airboat Tours page.