This photo is a picture of a new invasive plant that is quite new to our area. It is called Tropical Bushmint (Cantinoa mutabilis). This plant now covers our fields, roadsides, all around my barn and all over the tea bushes. It is a strong growing perennial and spreads like invasive wildfire on steroids. It is hard to pull up by the roots and tough to cut. It makes Ragweed seem like a spring daisy.
I only started noticing this two or three years ago. As I had studied invasive plants in Wildlife Biology I knew the names of most all the weeds in our area. This one is new. When I could not find it in my weed book I started sending photos around to botanists in our area. No one could identify except the it “Looks like a mint.” I finally asked the right person who told me about it.
This plant has relatives across the USA and there are several types of Bushmint. This species has been in south Florida for ever but is native to the north coast of South America. I was told that it arrived in our area likely blown ashore in the 1990 hurricanes. It has become firmly established just along the coast line of Mississippi and Alabama and down the panhandle of Florida to about Apalachicola. It is very aggressive and very invasive and with the help of global warming it is likely to spread long and far. It is a pain to keep out of my tea rows.
We are doing lots of tea farm tours even though it has been 95 degrees everyday now for weeks. People expect it to be hot so they come anyway. We meet lots of nice folks who are very interested in how we are growing and processing tea. Remember you have to have an appointment, tours are $10 per person, cash only, and bring a little more so you can buy some tea. Tips are good. We like only two or three people at a time so we can tour the fields on the golf cart, but we will take up to six people at a time. Young children are not very entertained hearing about the tea making process. We have bugs, dogs and chicken poop hazards as you would find on any farm. This is not a good place for birthday parties of mother-daughter teas but a working tea farm.
People really like our tours and are are very complementary. So come see us!