Three Worst Species

Salt Cedar

Originally from Asia, this many branched shrub with scale-like leaves can look deceivingly attractive when covered with thousands of pink flowers. But a more sinister side exists. It is one of only a few trees that can invade salt marshes. Also known as tamarisk, the common name, salt cedar, refers to the tree´s ability to grow in salty soils. A single plant can produce over a million seeds per year. These tiny seeds blow in on the wind and can quickly develop into trees up to 25 feet tall and capable of consuming up to 200 gallons of water a day!

Giant Reed

A tall Mediterranean grass, this giant cane leads a Zombie-like existence. Mowing or burning cannot kill it, as it will send up new stems to replace the old ones. In fact, any plant part can sprout leaves and roots, making it the most aggressive invader in the Tijuana River Valley ! Bamboo-like stands topping 30 feet in height and 50 feet in diameter dominate large areas, choking out native species while increasing available fuel for destructive wildfires.

Castor Bean

This shrub or small tree, with large, shiny, green or bright purple leaves is often planted as an ornamental, but is slick appearance hides a deadly secret. Its seeds are highly toxic to mammals. The seeds are large – about the size of a bean – with one plant producing thousands in its lifetime. Requiring sunlight to germinate, these seeds are long-live, sometimes laying in wait for up to 10 years before springing to life. This Mediterranean invader travels in the company of waterborne trash and is often the first to carpet a disturbed site with new plants.