Inevitable Invader …

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It was inevitable, unfortunately …

Ken Gonyo, Diane LaRue, Jean ‘JJ’ Romano, and Susan Warmer – the core Wednesday work team – found coral ardisia (Ardisia crenata) at the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area for the first time on Wednesday, 2/18/2015. A photo from Diane LaRue memorializes the first finding …

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This plant was very plentiful at the nearby Indian River Lagoon Greenway until Ken Gonyo began to lead efforts to control it. Birds (and humans) spread it.

With its bright red berries and dark green toothed (crenate) leaves, coral aridsia was sold by nursery industry until just this year when it was added to the Florida Noxious Plant List. As often is the case, this pernicious pest has already escaped from cultivation to ravage our natural areas. It, of course, is a Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council Category 1 invasive pest plant.

It joins two other plants in this genus at the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area – the native marlberry (Ardisia escalloniodies) and the other category #1 invasive pest plant shoebutton ardisia (Ardisia elliptica). Also known as coral berry and spice berry, this invasive plant is easily differentiated from shoebutton ardisia by its crenate leaves. Below Ken Gonyo, in another photo taken by Diane LaRue, holds coral ardisia (left) and shoebutton ardisia (right) for comparison …

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