• Purple, yellow, gold and orange sponges and soft corals wave against a turquioise sea.


    National Park Florida

Exotic Plants in Biscayne National Park

Colubrina asiatica is one of many exotic invasive plants found in Biscayne National Park

Colubrina asiatica is one of many exotic invasive plants found in Biscayne National Park


What are exotic species?

Exotic species are those species that exist outside of their natural range. Exotic species may also be called non-native, alien, introduced, and non-indigenous. Human actions are often responsible for the introduction of non-native species, such as through the intentional or unintentional release of pets or by intentionally releasing non-native species for pest control. While some non-native species remain in low numbers and are not considered particularly problematic, other species can proliferate in the new environment, become invasive, and have serious ecological consequences.

Exotic species fare well in their introduced environment because they can successfully compete against the native species and they often lack natural predators to keep their numbers in check. Because of its warm climate, South Florida is an inviting place for exotic species to become established, and many non-native species can be seen in Biscayne National Park. Whenever possible, park managers attempt to control the distribution and spread of these species.

How can I help?

The most important thing each of us can to protect our fragile South Florida ecosystems from exotic species is to act responsibly. Never release an exotic plant or animal into the wild, even if you think it is harmless. Many non-native species can be eradicated or controlled if their introduction is caught early enough, so report sightings of exotic species to proper authorities. If you would like to report a sighting of a new exotic species from Biscayne National Park, click here. Please provide as much information as possible (such as the date, specific location, and number and size(s) of specimen(s) observed). Photographs documenting your observation are encouraged.

Which exotic plants occur in Biscayne National Park?

The following exotic plants are known to occur in Biscayne National Park. Exotic species that are (or have been) cultivated are indicated with an asterisk after the common name. The Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council (FLEPPC) status is indicated in the last column. Exotics listed as FLEPPC Category I species are altering native communities by displacing native species, changing community structures, or ecological functions, or hybridizing with natives. Exotics listed as FLEPPC Category II species have increased in abundance or frequency but have not yet altered plant communities to the extent shown by Category I species.

Common Name

Scientific Name

2009 FLEPPC Status

Achicoria azul

Launaea intybacea

African ground orchid, Monk orchid

Oeceoclades maculata

Angelwing jasmine *

Jasminum nitidum

Arabian jasmine *

Jasminum sambac


Asia crabgrass

Digitaria bicornis

Australian-pine, Horsetail casuarina

Casuarina equisetifolia


Bahia grass

Paspalum notatum

Beach napuka

Scaevola sericea


Bermuda grass

Cynodon dactylon

Black medic

Medicago lupulina

Bowstring-hemp, Mother-in-laws tongue

Sansevieria hyacinthoides



Schinus terebinthifolius


Brittleweed, Coatbuttons

Tridax procumbens


Sorghum arundinaceum

Burmareed, Silkreed

Neyraudia reynaudiana


Canary Island date palm *

Phoenix canariensis


Ricinus communis


Centipede grass

Eremochloa ophiuroides

China brake

Pteris vittata


Chinese fan palm *

Livistona chinensis

Cinnecord *

Acacia choriophylla

Cochineal cactus

Opuntia cochenillifera

Coconut palm

Cocos nucifera

Commercial date palm, Date

Phoenix dactylifera

Common dayflower

Commelina diffusa

Common liveleaf, Cathedral bells, Life plant

Kalanchoe pinnata

Common pigweed, slim amaranth

Amaranthus hybridus

Common plantain

Plantago major

Creeping indigo, Trailing indigo

Indigofera spicata

Creeping wedelia, Creeping oxeye

Wedelia trilobata


Crow's-foot grass, Durban crowfootgrass

Dactyloctenium aegyptium

Dayflowering jessamine

Cestrum diurnum


Desert palm, Washington fan palm

Washingtonia robusta

Dwarf banana *

Musa acuminata

Elliptic yellowwood

Ochrosia elliptica

Feather love grass

Eragrostis amabilis

Flattop mille graines

Hedyotis corymbosa

Florida tasselflower

Emilia fosbergii

Fourspike heliotrope

Heliotropium procumbens

Gale-of-wind, Carry-me-seed

Phyllanthus amarus


Gomphrena serrata

Gophertail love grass

Eragrostis ciliaris

Grassleaf spurge

Euphorbia graminea

Green shrimpplant, Browne's blechum

Blechum pyramidatum


Psidium guajava



Panicum maximum

Hurricane sedge, Hurricanegrass

Fimbristylis cymosa

Indian goose grass

Eleusine indica

Itch grass

Rottboellia cochinchinensis

Ivyleaf moriningglory

Ipomoea hederacea

Key lime *

Citrus aurantifolia

King ranch bluestem, Yellow bluestem

Bothriochloa ischaemum var. songarica

Largeflower Mexican clover

Richardia grandiflora

Latherleaf, Asian nakedwood

Colubrina asiatica


Little ironweed

Vernonia cinerea


Thevetia peruviana


Catharanthus roseus


Mangifera indica

Manila templegrass, Manilagrass

Zoysia matrella

Marsh parsley

Cyclospermum leptophyllum

Mascarene Island leafflower

Phyllanthus tenellus

Mascarene templegrass

Zoysia tenuifolia


Furcraea foetida

Mendez's sandmat

Chamaesyce mendezii

Napier grass, Elephantgrass

Pennisetum purpureum



Cyperus rotundus

Oleander *

Nerium oleander

Orange geigertree, Largeleaf geigertree

Cordia sebestena

Oysterplant, Moses-in-the-cradle, Boatlily

Tradescantia spathacea



Carica papaya


Urochloa mutica


Paurotis palm, Everglades palm *

Acoelorraphe wrightii

Pitted bluestem, Pitted beardgrass

Bothriochloa pertusa


Thespesia populnea


Punctureweed, Burrnut, Jamaican feverplant

Tribulus cistoides


Road-side flatsedge

Cyperus sphacelatus

Roadside sandmat

Chamaesyce lasiocarpa

Rocketweed, Oriental false hawksbeard

Youngia japonica

Rose Natalgrass

Rhynchelytrum repens


Royal poinciana, Flamboyant

Delonix regia

Sabicu *

Lysiloma sabicu

Santa Maria, Santa Maria feverfew

Parthenium hysterophorus


Manilkara zapota


Seaside mahoe, Sea hibiscus, mahoe

Hibiscus tiliaceus


Senegal date palm

Phoenix reclinata


Shortleaf spikesedge

Kyllinga brevifolia

Shrubby false buttonweed

Spermacoce verticillata


Lantana camara


Signal grass, Tropical signalgrass

Urochloa subquadripara


Agave sisalana


Slender amaranth

Amaranthus viridis

Smut grass

Sporobolus indicus

Spiny sowthistle

Sonchus asper

Sprenger's asparagus-fern

Asparagus densiflorus


St. Augustine grass

Stenotaphrum secundatum


Calyptocarpus vialis


Eugenia uniflora


Swamp fern, Toothed midsorus fern *

Blechnum serrulatum

Tamarind *

Tamarindus indica

Threeflower ticktrefoil

Desmodium triflorum

Three-lobed morningglory, Littlebell

Ipomoea triloba

Torpedo grass

Panicum repens


Tropical-almond, West Indian-almond

Terminalia catappa


Tuberous sword fern

Nephrolepis cordifolia


Twinberry, Simpson's stopper *

Myrcianthes fragrans


Senna pendula var. glabrata


Violet wood sorrel, Pink woodsorrel

Oxalis debilis var. corymbosa

Weeping bottlebrush

Melaleuca viminalis

West Indian dropseed

Sporobolus indicus var. pyramidalis

White clover, Dutch clover

Trifolium repens

White leadtree

Leucaena leucocephala


White moneywort

Alysicarpus vaginalis

White sweetclover

Melilotus albus

Wild-bean, Wild bushbean

Macroptilium lathyroides

Yellow alder, Ramgoat dashalong

Turnera ulmifolia

Yellow nut-grass, Chufa flatsedge

Cyperus esculentus

no common name *

Coccothrinax barbadensis

no common name *

Cordyline fruticosa

no common name *

Dracaena marginata

no common name

Sophora tomentosa var. occidentalis

Additional sources of information on exotic species:

Biscayne National Park Exotic Animals Page

Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Nonnative Species

USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database

Everglades Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area

USDA National Invasive Species Information Center

Did You Know?