Floridian Nature

Learn about Florida's beautiful and unique nature.





Florida Nature: Native Emersed Plants (2)
Emersed plants are plants that grow out of the water (or during low-water times, in exposed sediments). They are rooted to the bottom, but their stems, leaves and flowers are above the water

Florida Lizards tail plant found near lakes and swampsLizard's-Tail (Saururus cernuus)- Lizard's-tail is a common emersed plant. It grows into small colonies from underground runners. The erect plant is commonly found growing to one to two feet tall, in freshwater marshes and swamps nearly throughout Florida. It blooms in the summer. Saururus cernuus occurs almost always under natural conditions in wetlands. Lizard's-tail has a bottlebrush spike of white flowers. It is typically six to eight inches long but can be longer. The flower spike arches above the leaves of the plant. After maturity, the flowers become a string of nutlets that resemble a lizard's tail. The leaves are medium sized, about 1 1/2 inches wide, and three to four inches long. They can be arrowhead-shaped or heart-shaped, are on stalks, and are alternate on the stem. Leaf stalks form clasps where they join the stem.

native Floridian pickerelweedPickerelweed  (Pontederia cordata)- The native pickerelweed is a very common emersed plant that is commonly found growing in streams, marshes, ditches, ponds and lake margins nearly throughout Florida. It is a prolific grower that can cover large areas. Pontederia cordata blooms from spring to summer. Pickerelweed typically grows to about two to three feet tall. Its leaves are large, up to five inches wide, and are usually twice as long. Leaf shapes are variable, but are usually lance-shaped. The easiest way to recognize pickerelweed is by its spike of violet-blue flowers. Sometimes the flowers are white.



smooth water hyssop, common Floridian herb plantSmooth Water Hyssop (Bacopa monnieri)- Smooth water hyssop is an emersed plant. This small sprawling herb is common in fresh and brackish waters. At least three species of bacopa are native to Florida. This species, smooth water hyssop, is distinguished by its white flowers, and is distributed throughout the southernmost U.S. Smooth water hyssop leaves are succulent and relatively thick. Its leaves are only 1/8 inch wide and 5/8 inch long. Leaves are oblanceolate, and are arranged oppositely on the stem. Flowers are small and white, with 4 or 5 petals.

spatterdock plant found near florida rivers and streamsSpatterdock (Nuphar lutea subsp. advena)- Spatterdock is a large plant whose leaves are often floating, however submersed and emersed leaves are common. Spatterdock commonly occurs in ponds, lakes and sluggish streams and blooms from spring to summer. Spatterdock has large heart-shaped leaves, usually with wavy margins. Spatterdock floating leaves are attached to long, stout stems which arise from large, spongy rhizomes. Spatterdock submersed leaves are very thin, attached at the bottom rhizomes. Spatterdock flowers are yellow and "half-opened" at or above the water surface. Flowers are attached to thick round stems that are often six feet long.

blooming florida swamp lilySwamp lily (Crinum americanum)- Swamp lily is an emersed plant that is frequently found growing in swamps, marshes, and wet hammocks. It is a fragrant native. There are four species of Crinum in Florida. The swamp lily is a perennial herb with an onionlike bulb. The leaves are erect to spreading. Leaves are straplike, to three feet long. The leaves are to three inches wide. Swamp lily flowers arise from the bulb on a long flower stalk that is separate from the leaves. The flowers have six petals and are white or white and pink.

water-spider orchard plant, found in florida rivers and lakesWater-Spider Orchid (Habenaria repens)- The water-spider orchid is an emersed plant. It is a true native orchid. Water-spider orchid occurs on marshy shores and sometimes in floating mats of vegetation. There are five species of Habenaria in Florida.  The water-spider orchid spreads by runners as well as seeds. It is erect, growing to one or two feet tall. Its leaves are thick and succulent, two to nine inches long and up to one inch wide. The leaves are narrowly lance-shaped, tapering to a narrow point. The most conspicuous part is its stalk of flowers that occurs at the top of the plant. The small flowers are pale green, to 3/4 inch across. The petals are narrow, making the flowers resemble small green spiders.

waterpod emersed floridian plantWaterpod (Hydrolea quadrivalvis)- Waterpod is not especially common, but is native from Virginia to Florida to Louisiana. Four species of Hydrolea exist in Florida. This particular species grows in the shallow waters of swamps and marshes from the northern counties south to the central peninsula of Florida; it flowers in the summer. Waterpod is a medium-sized plant with blue axillary flowers and stout thorns. Don't grab it without looking first. Its thick stems are covered with very visible hairs.
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