There are more than 4,000 species of plants in Florida, and many are spreading. According to the University of Florida, about 3,000 of these plants are native. Of the 1,000 non-native plants, there are about 130 that are invasive. Invasive plants spread easily throughout the landscape, and if not kept in check, create problems for the environment by pushing out plants and the animals that depend on the native species.
The Typha species of cattail is native to Florida. The cattail grows in wetlands near lakes and rivers, and are very common. The cattail grows a cylindrical, brown flower spike that reaches over 12 inches in height. The stems grow up to 9 feet tall. The cattail provides cover and a nesting area for several animals and birds. Cattails are suitable for yards with water features. The cattail spreads on its own via rhizomes.
Sawgrass is a native plant of Florida and is predominant in the Everglades. It also grows near water features throughout the southeastern United States. Sawgrass provides food and nesting areas for water birds and animals that live near water features. It is a sedge grass and readily spreads via rhizomes. The stems are hollow and grow up to 10 feet high. The leaves grow less than an inch wide and up to 3 feet long. The edges of the leaves and the lower side of the midribs have sharp saw teeth.
Chinese wisteria is a non-native plant that grows in Florida. Non-native means that it was brought here sometime after Columbus. It is often sold in garden centers and nurseries. Wisteria is a vine that grows over anything--fences, trees, homes. If it grows up and over a tree or other plant, it blocks that plant's sunlight, eventually killing the plant. The height of the wisteria is limited to the height of its "trellis." Chinese wisteria twines and can reach 15 inches in diameter. It twines counter-clockwise (Japanese wisteria twines clockwise). Wisteria flowers in April and May in Florida. It can be found anywhere there is full sun and well-drained soil. It spreads easily by rooting at the nodes. It also produces new shoots if it is cut back or trimmed.