Beach Vitex (Vitex rotundifolia), an invasive dune plant species, rapidly spreads via vegetative growth and seed dispersal, posing a threat to native dune plants and animals on Bald Head Island. The integrity of the BHI dune system, which is strongly correlated with the prevalence and health of native vegetation, is of utmost importance to combat chronic erosion, storm events, and rising sea levels. Unmanaged, Beach Vitex quickly dominates the dune habitat producing a monoculture that can impede sea turtle nesting and shorebird foraging and exacerbate storm erosion.
BHIC has been contracted since 2005 by the Village of BHI to identify and eradicate Beach Vitex (VBHI Ord. 2005-014); a multi-year effort due to this plant’s prolific seed production and quick regrowth. Staff and interns undertake an extensive Beach Vitex survey covering the whole dune ecosystem on the island from the beachfront to the primary dune ridge, including private property. We also periodically conduct aerial surveys using UAVs (drones). Treatment, carried out in the fall-winter, involves applying the herbicide Imazapyr to individual plants.