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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Going Wild from Down Under: Melaleuca Quinquenervia Invades the Everglades

Authors
item Dray, F Allen
item Bennett, Bradley - FLORIDA INT'L UNIVERSITY
item Center, Ted

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: May 20, 2004
Publication Date: July 13, 2004
Citation: Dray Jr, F.A., Bennett, B.C., Center, T.D. 2004. Going wild from down under: melaleuca quinquenervia invades the everglades. Meeting Abstract.

Interpretive Summary: The last decades of the 19th century were a period of intense discovery. Scientific explorers were dispatched around the globe with the express purpose of finding new plant species useful in agriculture, horticulture, and forestry. Plant enthusiasts freely exchanged exotic species as they sought to enrich the floras in their own back yards. One result of this unrestricted global plant interchange has been the realization that the law of unintended consequences is a demanding mistress. Florida's subtropical climate was particularly susceptible to unexpected outcomes. Many species imported into Florida for their beauty and utility turned ugly as they escaped cultivation and invaded native plant communities with disastrous results. Melaleuca quinquenervia (Myrtaceae) is one such species. Imported into Florida from Australia over a century ago as a landscape species, Melaleuca escaped cultivation and invaded southern Florida's Everglades ecosystems where it came to occupy at least 200,000 hectares. This paper explores the history of Melaleuca in Florida, and describes what happens when a visitor from "Down Under" goes wild in the Everglades.

Technical Abstract: The last decades of the 19th century were a period of intense discovery. Scientific explorers were dispatched around the globe with the express purpose of finding new plant species useful in agriculture, horticulture, and forestry. Plant enthusiasts freely exchanged exotic species as they sought to enrich the floras in their own back yards. One result of this unrestricted global plant interchange has been the realization that the law of unintended consequences is a demanding mistress. Florida's subtropical climate was particularly susceptible to unexpected outcomes. Many species imported into Florida for their beauty and utility turned ugly as they escaped cultivation and invaded native plant communities with disastrous results. Melaleuca quinquenervia (Myrtaceae) is one such species. Imported into Florida from Australia over a century ago as a landscape species, Melaleuca escaped cultivation and invaded southern Florida's Everglades ecosystems where it came to occupy at least 200,000 hectares. This paper explores the history of Melaleuca in Florida, and describes what happens when a visitor from "Down Under" goes wild in the Everglades.

Last Modified: 12/28/2014
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