|Florida Nature: Native Plants|
There are many thousands of species of plants in the United States, with
more than 4,000 species identified and known to be in Florida. Most
plants in Florida are "good" plants--they are native and non-invasive;
they have evolved into their own ecological niches. Native plants
provide food and shelter to animals of all sorts, stability to
shorelines and fields, and visual pleasure to those of us lucky enough
to live here. There are so many plants native to Florida that we have
decided to break them up into several categories for easier research and
viewing. Of course we were unable to list every native plant in the
state of Florida, but we have tried to connect our readers we a wide
variety of interesting plants and grasses. Our Florida native trees and
shrubs section has a long alphabetical listing of many of Florida's
trees and shrubs. For further information on Florida, you may want to
purchase a book from our
Florida Nature Library. Don't miss our "Nature
Videos" slideshow set to music!
In Florida, plants are considered native if they were here before Columbus arrived. Native Plants have evolved within their own ecological niches, and are not invasive within their own native ranges. Native plants provide food and shelter to our animals of all sorts, stability to our shorelines and fields, and visual pleasure of the highest order. Because a native plant species usually does not take over its home range, there is biodiversity, a number of species growing in balance and living together in harmony. Florida is famous for its biodiversity. Biodiversity exists when species are constrained in their growth by natural factors, so they can't overrun their neighboring species. Such natural growth restraints include: competition with other native species, diseases, feeding by insects and other animals, climate, and so on.
We define non-native plants as "those that have become part of the Florida flora following the occupation by European man." In other words: plants that have made their way here since 1513 are considered non-native. Under the right conditions, some non-native plants can become invasive. An invasive plant is a non-native plant species that has escaped cultivation, is spreading on its own and causing environmental or economic harm. Non-native Invasive plants can outgrow, replace, and otherwise destroy our native plants. That's because non-native plants usually do not have their natural enemies, the diseases, insects and other environmental stresses, that keep them in check in their native ranges. The destruction and replacement of our native plants has several significant consequences: Our natural biodiversity is destroyed; Our native plants can be eliminated; Our wildlife have evolved to use native plants are not able to make use of non-native plants. As a result, they will leave or die out. Invasive plants can completely fill the water column or cover the surface so that fish are driven from the area; Swimming, boating, hiking and other uses can be affected or even dangerous in areas with invasive plants.
Submersed plants grow entirely or almost entirely underwater. Some submersed species produce flowers and are pollinated underwater or at the water surface, and other submersed species have branches and leaves that reach and spread across the water just below the surface. Some varieties of submerged plants produce flowers that float on the surface, while others have flower stalks that emerge up to six inches above the water.
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. One group of emersed plants have no particular stems - just leaves reaching for the sky. Some emersed plants are very large-leaved, with big spikes of flowers.
Aquatic grasses, sedges and rushes in Florida are the multitudinous plants that look like giant grasses, and some of them are just that. Other aquatic grasses, sedges and rushes look like leafless stems or they look like Dr. Seuss plants. Some of these aquatic grasses are remnants of plant groups that were prevalent when the dinosaurs roamed.
Butterfly attracting native plants are usually aromatic flowers that are colored orange, yellow, pink, purple, or red. Many large, beautiful cultivated flowers have little nectar and will not attract butterflies.
Hummingbird attracting native plants are often bright red or orange. Hummingbirds are not born with an attraction to certain colors but learn by trial and error which flowers give the best results. Because most nectar-bearing flowers within the range of the ruby-throat are red and orange, they quickly come to favor those colors.
Florida native grasses includes a list of interesting and useful ornamental grasses for the Florida garden. These native grasses are both unique and colorful in your garden, and also require less watering and fertilizer.
Florida endangered plants are plants that are in danger of becoming extinct. Care needs to be taken to make sure any of these plants you may run across are not destroyed. These plants contribute to Florida's ecosystem is a variety of ways.
Poisonous Florida plants may cause symptoms ranging from skin, eye and mouth irritation, pain, breathing problems, allergic reactions, stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, coma or even death. Florida has many beautiful plants, but some can be dangerous if swallowed or even if you come into contact with them.
Florida Fungi and mushrooms explores interesting "fungus among us".
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