Weeds of Wednesday: Basketplant

At the end of a walk at Captain Forster Hammock Preserve (CFHP) on 2/29/2020, some of the laggards came across a prolific plant along the edge of the trail.  Thanks to Donna Winter (Class of 2016) for finding out its name and for the top photo.

Basketplant (Callisia fragrans) is endemic to Mexico and is labelled a category 2 invasive pest plant by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council.  Shady hammocks and disturbed locations are where you will find this strongly stoloniferous plant.  Its aggressiveness is quite evident at CFHP where it is colonizing on both sides of the trail.

Other names for this pestiferous plant include chain plant, false bromeliad, octopus plant, and inch plant.  Sometimes its leaves are striped with purple or white markings.

Its slightly twisted spikes of white flowers are striking as seen above in a photo by Donna Winter.  This aggressive plant is easy to grow so is touted as a marvelous subtropical houseplant for beginners.

The Florida Plant Atlas shows basketplant ranging from the Keys to St. Lucie County.  Freezing temperatures likely will limit how far this plant can spread, so basketplant will not be problematic in north Florida, but here we can see at Captain Forster Hammock Preserve its potential to crowd-out native vegetation.

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