Invasive species in Split Oak Forest

This post kicks off National Invasive Species Awareness Week 2018! Split Oak Forest has been incredibly well-managed by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) for over 20 years. They’ve kept a tight burn rotation as well as aggressively controlled the few invasive species that were onsite when Split Oak Forest was acquired by the two counties.

Wild hogs (Sus scrofa) are the most destructive invasive animal species in Split Oak. They are difficult to control even when trapped and hunted extensively. They dig on the sides of paths and firebreaks and anywhere they can find grubs, fungi, and easily-accessible roots.

Natal grass (Melinis repens) is scattered throughout Split Oak Forest, but appears to be restricted near the main entrance, disturbed areas (like our spoil sandhills by Lake 1 and Lake 2), and along firebreaks.

Natal grass in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh by J.M. Garg via Wikimedia Commons

Caesar weed (Urena lobata) is restricted to the oak hammock called Eagles Nest Hammock. There is little groundcover there to compete with it, save a few saw palmettos (Sabal palmetto) and beautyberry (Callicarpa americana).

Caesarweed in Osceola County by Osceola CISMA

Split Oak is lucky to be not afflicted with cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica), which ifs very expensive and difficult to control.

Cogongrass in Osceola County by Osceola CISMA

Similarly, no old world climbing fern (Lygodium microphyllum) is found in Split Oak, but I have found it along the Swamp Trail in Moss Park just 100′ from Split Oak’s boundary.  We (and Orange EPD and FWC) should keep an eye on it and preferably treat it soon.

Old world climbing fern in Osceola County by Osceola CISMA

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