Upland Habitat scientists are currently involved in a study to control natalgrass ( Melinis repens ) on the Lake Wales Ridge.
The Upland Habitat program is currently involved in controlling natalgrass (Melinis repens) on the Lake Wales Ridge Wildlife and Environmental (WEA). Melinis repens is a grass native to Africa and was once thought to be an occasional weed in Florida during the 1960s. It has since spread throughout the state and is now considered a serious problem. Since this proliferation of natalgrass is a relatively new phenomenon, land managers are just now beginning to investigate how to control it.
Controlling Melinis repens is a high priority for managing scrub and sandhill habitat on the Lake Wales Ridge. The region provides habitat for over 30 state and federally listed plants. Melinis repens and other exotics are threats to scrub and sandhill systems due to their ability to displace native species which may change the community structure or ecological function of such a unique habitat.
In March 2010, Upland Habitat scientists, in collaboration with researchers from Archbold Biological Station, initiated a research project on a degraded scrub tract infested with Melinis repens on the Lake Wales Ridge WEA near Lake Placid. This project (currently in pilot phase) will test several control methods including herbiciding, hand-pulling, mulching, shading, and allelopathy (leachates from rosemary leaves). The information gathered from restoring scrub habitat on the WEA will be valuable to all land managers tasked with managing scrub systems throughout the region.
Reference: Guide to the Natural Communities of Florida 2010 Edition (PDF 19 MB)
Upland Habitat and Archbold Biological Station biologists
evaluate natalgrass stem density on the Lake Whales Ridge