Theresa Badurek, Urban Horticulture Agent, Pinellas County Extension
It’s October and the Florida Holly is in full bloom. Wait a minute, Florida Holly? Even though that sounds like a beautiful plant, don’t be fooled! What some people call the “Florida Holly” is really an insidious invasive exotic. The real name of this plant is Brazilian pepper, Schinus terebinthifolius. You probably see this plant in so many places that you don’t even notice it anymore. Or maybe you’ve always wondered what that lovely big shrub with all the pretty red berries on it was. Here it is:
This plant was introduced to Florida in the mid 1800s as an ornamental plant. It has since taken over and continues to spread and destroy natural habitats all over Florida. If that wasn’t enough to prove to you what a nasty plant this is, it’s also a member of the same plant family as poison ivy. Yes, that means that contact with the plant may cause a rash or irritation. Some people experience respiratory irritation while it’s in bloom, from late summer through November. Many are in full bloom right now.
Now that you know this alien invasion is taking place, you can help stop it! If you have a Brazilian pepper- remove it! (Note: this is easier said than done…) Talk to a neighbor and let them know if they have an invasive plant that should be removed. While we’re on the subject, there are many other invasive exotics to look out for. Helping control the spread of the plants is one of the many ways you can help protect Florida’s unique ecosystems.
Brazilian pepper links that include control methods:
Here are some other beautifully deceptive non-native invasive exotics you should know:
Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council: http://www.fleppc.org/index.cfm