DADE CITY, Fla. — The Old World Climbing Fern is one of the worst invasive plants. It's dangerous for plants and wildlife, and that’s why crews are working to stop it from spreading in Central Florida.
"One leaflet can have almost 30,000 spores, as small as pollen, that can be transported on people, equipment or animals," said Brian Nelson Vegetation Manager for the Southwest Florida Water Management District.
It's pollen sized spores are likely how the fern made its way from Africa or Southeast Asia to south Florida where it was first spotted in the 1960s.
"They just blanket everything and shade it out so we lose out native plant diversity and habitat," said Nelson.
The Old World Climbing Fern infests more than 200,000 acres in south Florida. The plant works its way up trees , completely covering and killing all plants in its path and becomes a dangerous fire hazard.
As it makes its way into central Florida, SWFWMD employees who manage the Green Swamp say they’ve found nearly 700 of the ferns in the swamp.
When they find a plant, they destroy it by cutting it at the roots and then spray the roots to kill it.
SWFWMD says by stopping these small infestations they hope to minimize it’s spread.