Big, Bad Grass

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Botany books say that this grass is very variable and ranges from 3 to 16 feet tall. Giant panicum (Panicum maximum) is another Florida Invasive Pest Plant Council Category 2 (FLEPPC) invasive pest plant found at the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area and in disturbed places throughout Florida.

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This and other grasses are easily spread by seed. Giant panicum, also know as Guinea grass because it is native to New Guinea, is the bane of abandoned citrus groves and restoration efforts at Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge.

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The FLEPPC lists this grass as a Category 2 invasive plant because it has “not yet altered Florida plant communities to the extent shown by Category I species.” At the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area, it has been able to penetrate the mesic hammock area because of the mowing maintenance practices of the Indian River County Parks Department but has been ‘beaten back’ by the efforts of the Wednesday work day team.

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This sprawling mess of guinea grass no longer greets visitors at the entry kiosk.