Controlling Natalgrass (Melinis repens) in Florida

Upland Habitat scientists are currently involved in a study to control natalgrass (Melinis repens) on the Lake Wales Ridge.

natalgrass, Melinis repens

Upland Habitat scientists at the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute are trying to help managers figure out how to control natalgrass (Melinis repens) on the Lake Wales Ridge Wildlife and Environmental Area (WEA). Natalgrass is native to Africa and was once thought to be an occasional weed in Florida. But since the 1960s, it has spread throughout the state and is now considered a serious problem. Controlling natalgrass is a high priority for managing scrub and sandhill habitat on the Lake Wales Ridge because this region is home to more than 30 federally listed endangered plants. Natalgrass and other exotic plants are threats to scrub and sandhill habitats because they can displace native species, which may change the natural plant community structure or ecological function of these habitats. But since the spread of natalgrass is a relatively new phenomenon, land managers are just now beginning to investigate how to control it.

In March 2010, Upland Habitat scientists, in collaboration with researchers from Archbold Biological Station, initiated a research project to help managers find answers. They are focusing their investigation on a degraded scrub tract infested with natalgrass on the Lake Wales Ridge WEA near Lake Placid. In this project, scientists will test several control methods including applying herbicides, hand-pulling, mulching, shading and allelopathy, or spreading fluids (leachates) from rosemary leaves that inhibit growth. The information gathered during this study will be valuable to all land managers tasked with protect and restore scrub systems throughout the region.

Reference: Guide to the Natural Communities of Florida 2010 EditionAdobe PDF

biologists evaluating invasive natalgrass, caption belowUpland Habitat and Archbold Biological Station biologists
evaluate natalgrass stem density on the Lake Whales Ridge.

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