Segment: Invasive species

Source: Interview with Marjory Stoneman Douglas: a tale of two women / produced by Florida International University Learning Resources for FIU/FAU Joint Center. Videotaped at the Douglas House in Coconut Grove, June 15, 1983.

Link to Audio: SPC951_9

Length of Segment: 00:05:54

MSD: (27:45) But we are facing it, we’ve got to face it, we’ve got to understand it, we’ve got to do the best we can.  There’s another situation that isn’t anybodies fault, particularly nowadays, that’s a very bad situation, and that is that the melaleuca and the schinus terebinthifolius or Brazilian pepper.  Both of which were introduced way back, just about seventy years ago on the west coast by Dr Neiling and on the east coast by Dr. Gifford of Coconut Grove.  Those trees were something that was introduced that would grow in Florida that would be an advantage…  They have taken over as absolute pests.  Melaleuca is the worst, the Brazilian pepper is the next and the Australian pine is the third.  They all came from Australia, but they didn’t any enemies, so they have grown and prospered and they are taking over whole tracts of wild South Florida land.  The melaleuca is coming into Big Cypress at a great rate and can take over the whole thing.  When the melaleuca takes over, nothing can grow but melaleuca.  It drives out all the native trees the animals can’t live in it, and more than that it’s very hard to eradicate.  But the Friends of the Everglades are inaugurating a program, by which we are trying to find out what can kill them, how they can be killed.  We know how to kill them individually and in our backyards, and we must begin a program getting rid… you don’t have to have a permit for cutting down a melaleuca or a Brazilian pepper in your backyard.  You have to have a permit when it’s on the street, but it doesn’t cost any money, you get it from the city, or get from the county.  You get a permit, but it doesn’t cost anything to take down a melaleuca or a schinus or an Australian pine on the street.  But in your backyard you can take them down without any permits whatsoever (glitch, resumes) any permits for taking down melaleuca, schinus and Brazilian pepper and Australian pine in your yards, but you do have to have permits for taking them down in the street, but those permits don’t cost anything.  And people better begin taking them down, because they are very bad trees, and particularly the melaleuca spreads like mad.  Schinus is spread by the birds, especially the robins from the North, but that’s just about the only excuse for them being because they do feed the birds, but we’ve got plenty of food for them without that, but the melaleuca has no excuse whatsoever, and it must be… when its cut down the truck must be sprayed or covered with herbicide to kill the shoots that would come up from the roots.  And if you see the little trees coming up from the spread of the seeds, they can be either burned or dug up or mowed down quite easily before they get to any size.  That is, here in the city, but out in the Big Cypress, if you cut a tree down they’ll be thousands more that come up, and that is our great problem.