“FISC-ally Responsible Flora” - September & October Sarasota Manatee EcoFlora Ecoquest

Hello EcoFlora participants and inquirers! It is time for a new EcoQuest. For the months of September and October, we will be doing something a little different. We usually center our EcoQuests around certain plant families, but for this quest, we will be looking for species on the FISC list. If you live in Florida, chances are you have seen some of these species in your backyard.

Track how many invasive species you find during this ecoquest here!

Water Hyacinth, Paperbark or Melaleuca, and the Chinese Banyan are some of the most invasive and damaging trees in our area affecting everything from native ecosystems, invading gardens, to even strangling our native oaks!

So, what is the FISC List? It is the Florida Invasive Species Council’s list of invasive plants. You might be familiar with its old name, FLEPPC (Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council). The name was recently updated to reflect more accurate terminology. Terminology and categorization are crucial when it comes to invasive species. The new FISC list of invasive species is divided into two sections: Category I and Category II. 

Category I plants are the most severe. This is measured by displacement of native species, or by the disruption of a stable native ecosystem. Category II plants are invasive plants that have not yet disturbed or displaced habitats or species but are reproducing outside of cultivation. These plants have the potential to become Category I plants if left unchecked, so both categories should be treated as a threat. Currently, there are 165 species on the FISC list. This list is updated every two years to include any newly introduced species and to reclassify the severity of existing invasive species. 

Some of the species we will be on the lookout for include the widely known Brazilian Pepper Tree (Schinus terebinthifolius), Caesarweed (Urena lobata) and Rosary Pea (Abrus precatorius). We will also be highlighting some of the “charismatic” invasive species that are commonly found in landscaping and in the Florida plant trade. These include:

Brazilian Pepper on the left, Caesar Weed in the center, and Rosary Pea on the right.

Category I

Pink Silk Tree (Albizia julibrissin)

Surinam Cherry (Eugenia uniflora)

Category II

Golden Pothos (Epipremnum pinnatum cv. Aureum)

Mother of Millions (Kalanchoe x houghtoni)

So, why should we care about documenting invasive species? By utilizing apps like iNaturalist, we can help natural land managers track the spread of an invasive plant. By doing so, we are better prepared to stop it from spreading further. Economically, invasive species management is a laborious and expensive endeavor. For example, it costs the state of Florida over 200 million dollars annually.

One of the best ways to help the fight against invasive species can happen right from your home. By removing known invasive species from your garden and planting native alternatives, you are helping to restore habitat. There are plant nurseries throughout the state that have a large variety of Florida native plants that look just as nice, if not better, than their invasive counterparts. We hope you will join us to learn more about our local ecosystems and how they are being impacted by invasive species. You can find dates, locations, and sign-up information for upcoming Bioblitzes here (link to EcoFlora page), or by emailing ecoflora@selby.org.

Also a shoutout to last months winners for finding the most Morning Glories: miriinthewild won with 31 glorious finds, followed by elprofer with 7 and hunter196 with 6 morning glories spotted!

Posted on September 02, 2022 03:12 AM by sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean


Great project! BTW, I spotted Golden Pothos for sale at the Sarasota Trader Joe's this week and spoke with the manager (sharing a recent post by "Know Your Florida" about the issue with Golden Pathos for a bit of gravitas). He was going to contact corporate and recommended that I also contact customer service online, which I did.

I received a response that they also shared my feedback and specific concerns (and the informational links I provided) with their Quality Assurance and Buying Teams for further review and future consideration (re: sale of Pothos; currently a Category II Invasive Species house plant in Florida). I'll keep you posted!

Posted by miriinthewild 9 months ago (Flag)

Hey @miriinthewild the sale of pothos and other plants is indeed a terrible thing for outdoor plantings but are harmless when kept inside! The best way for Trader Joes to help is to not even stop the sale but put up a sign saying "Inside Only" as they are very easy to grow and good for air quality indoors. Outdoors they can weigh down trees, shade out orchids and airplants, and even peel the paint off houses or bark off trees!

Posted by sarasota_manatee_... 9 months ago (Flag)

@sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean, thanks for your comments. Yes, and in an ideal world, consumers would notice, and heed the sign.

If pothos is rapidly on its way to becoming a Category I invasive species, therefore a huge problem, it would seem that steps such as curtailing sales of this particular plant, which is rapidly spreading in Florida (where most people WILL end up placing the plant in a lanai or garden, or, even worse, use it as groundcover) is a good step to take.

Posted by miriinthewild 9 months ago (Flag)

Add a Comment

Sign In or Sign Up to add comments