"The word "exotic" has always called to mind visions of the fascinating, unusual, curious, sophisticated, and even the bizarre (Kramer, 1998:5). This term seems to allure people to investigate, comprehend, and even collect exotic paraphernalia-including plants. The phrase "exotic plant" does sound glamorous, but not to the native plants in Florida.
Native plants live well with each other, sharing food, water, shelter, and space. When brought to a different environment these now non-native plants have trouble adapting with native plants. They take control of the space provided and begin to overcrowd the area, taking out many natives. Non-native species also lack natural controls such as disease and predation, which helps to keep a balance between species.
Exotic plants were first introduced to south Florida in the late 1800s and the population of them has been increasing ever since (Public Affairs Office, 1997a, 1997b). Most nonindigenous plants feel welcomed in the Sunshine State's partly tropical climate. They are able to stand the heavy rainfalls and Florida's partial droughts (Kramer, 1998). One non-native species that has grown throughout south Florida, and has even been called the Florida Holly, is quickly spreading (Public Affairs Office, 1997b). The south Florida Water Management District surveyed an area of 284,708 Hectares taken over by Brazilian pepper in 1993. This evergreen shrub had the largest range out of six other species surveyed and has almost completely displaced native understory plants (Kramer, 1997).
The Brazilian pepper (schinus terebinthiflius) was introduced in the nineteenth century as an ornamental plant, and did not begin to be pervasive until the 1900s-50 years later (Kramer 1997; Public Affairs Office, 1997b). Local distribution of its seeds is primarily by racoons and opossums, while birds spread the seeds long-distances. The Brazilian pepper does not require bare soil to invade.