Wedelia (Sphagneticola trilobata) is an invasive plant that was introduced to Florida in the early 1900s from Central and South America. It was widely used as a groundcover for its daisy-like flowers and fast growth habit. However, it has become a threat to many of our native plants in Florida, spreading out beyond landscapes into natural areas. A member of the sunflower family, Wedelia forms a thick mat of vegetation that crowds out other plants and blocks light to existing plants. This plant is extremely sturdy and can survive drought, freezes, and heavy shade. It is now listed by the UF/IFAS Assessment of Non-native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas as invasive and should not be planted in any region of the state. Due to it’s beautiful yellow flower, Wedelia is often confused with our native dune sunflower.
The Florida native dune sunflower (Helianthus debilis) is a beautiful and hardy plant that is well-suited for the state’s coastal areas. It is a low-growing, perennial plant that can grow up to 2 feet tall and 3 feet wide. It is drought-tolerant and can grow in sandy soils. The dune sunflower is an important plant for the ecosystem as it helps stabilize sand dunes and provides food and habitat for wildlife. In addition to it’s beautiful yellow flower, it is also a popular plant for landscaping due to its low maintenance requirements.
Wedelia is an invasive plant that poses a threat to Florida’s native plants and should not be planted in any region of the state. Instead, consider planting the Florida native dune flower, which is a beautiful and hardy plant that is well-suited for the coastal areas and provides important ecological benefits.