Beach Vitex - a Pretty but Invasive Plant
Threatening Native Dune Plants and Sea Turtles Beach vitex (Vitex rotundifolia) is a deciduous, woody vine from Japan and Korea that was introduced to the southeastern U.S. in the mid-1980s as an ornamental landscape plant as well as for sand dune stabilization. Along the gulf coast, beach vitex has escaped cultivation and covered oceanfront dunes. Beach vitex crowds out native dune plants such as sea oats, American beachgrass and seaside panicum. In addition, beach vitex threatens endangered loggerhead sea turtle nesting habitat as well as habitat for a federally threatened plant, seabeach amaranth and other rare Species.
Invasive Qualities of Beach Vitex:
- Drought and salt tolerant
- Fast growing
- Prolific seed producer
- Birds eat seeds and aid in distribution What can you do to help?
- Do not plant beach vitex.
- Notify the Beach Vitex Task Force of any populations that you find, including address or GPS coordinates.
- Remove beach vitex seedlings from public beach areas.
- Contact the Beach Vitex Task Force for advice on removal of mature beach vitex colonies and replacement with native plant species.
- If removal of beach vitex is not a short-term option, consider the following: Remove ripe fruits before dispersal by birds or water. Trim back branches that may break off and float away. Put all beach vitex clippings in a plastic trashbag so they will go to the landfill, rather than be chipped and spread as mulch.
- Seeds float and can be carried to other beaches
- Brittle stems break off during high tides, float away, root and colonize other beaches
- Seeds and cuttings that are chipped up and spread as mulch may start new populations
For additional information or to help prevent the spread of beach vitex, please Contact:
- Dale Suiter, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (919-856-4520 ext. 18, Dale_Suiter@fws.gov)
- Randy Westbrooks, U.S. Geological Survey (910-640-6435, firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Betsy Brabson, SC Beach Vitex Task Force (843-546-9531, email@example.com)
Beach Vitex Task Force Web Page: http://www.northinlet.sc.edu/resource/vitex.htm