Volunteers Help Remove Invasive Species From a Rare Plant Community on District Land

volunteers removing invasive plantsLeft: Joel DeAngelis, senior land management specialist, shows volunteers Porgy Smith and Ellen Puckett how to remove the invasive plants. Top right: Samantha DeVary, volunteer, shows how small some of the invasive plants can be. Bottom right: Joel DeAngelis shows volunteers the area where they will be removing invasive plants.

An invasive plant species, green wandering jew, was beginning to get a foothold at the District’s Panasoffkee Outlet property in Sumter County until District staff and volunteers from the Sumter County chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission took action.

The property is located in northwest Sumter County and features intact limerock formations that support several rare fern species, including hemlock spleenwort, abscised spleenwort and Peter’s filmy fern.

The invasive green wandering jew, which is ranked a Category I plant by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council, began to spread after several large trees fell during recent storms, causing gaps in the canopy.

“The fern communities are very prone to invasive plant infestations and are highly vulnerable to the effects of herbicide, which is why hand-pulling is the only way to remove invasive species in this area,” said Joel DeAngelis, senior land management specialist.

Volunteers hand-removed about 30 pounds of the invasive plants from approximately ten acres of upland hardwood forest. DeAngelis plans to make this an annual volunteer workday to continue to keep the invasive species at bay.

Learn how you can participate in District cleanups and workdays by calling 1-800-423-1476, ext. 4457, and ask for the land use and protection specialist for your area.