Weeds of Wednesday: Christmas senna

Christmas senna (Senna pendula var. glabrata), coralberry  (Ardisia crenata), shoebutton ardisia (Ardisia ellipticaI) Australian pine (Casuarina sp.) Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolia), and guineagrass (Urochloa maxima) are among the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council Category #1 invasive pest plants that have graced the Indian River Lagoon Greenway.  All of these invaders have been found at the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area (ORCA), too.

The upland portion of the IRL Greenway (and some of the wetlands) is owned by Indian River County and the St. Johns River Water Management District.  Its management is a collaborative effort of Indian River County, the Indian River Land Trust, and the Indian River Mosquito Control District.

The once imposing copse of Australian pine trees was vanguished with grant funding from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection garnered by Indian River County.  This funding source also was used to fund a professional attack on the coralberry, shoebutton ardisia, and Brazilian pepper.  Volunteers also worked hard to control these evil invaders.

Removal of the massive Australian pine trees allowed the Christmas senna to proliferate in the newly disturbed area.  Its yellow flowers are quite pretty as shown below in the photo below taken by J.R. Williams when Donna Winter (Class of 2016) led a walk for us on 11/24/19.

Yes, this plant, like other sennas, cassias, and chamaecristas, is a larval host plant for sulfur butterflies. Unlike its native counterparts, it is quite aggressive.

For your yard and to “feed” the butterflies, select instead a well-behaved native species such as privet wild sensitive plant (Senna ligustrina), which grows at ORCA and is shown below.


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