The flora found along Florida’s trails is unlike anything you’ll find elsewhere in the United States, and that’s just the native species. This visual guide is to introduce you to Florida’s diverse plants and trees.
A giant among trees, the bald cypress is an imposing sight. Unlike its relative the pond cypress, it prefers growing along water in motion, such as rivers, streams, and sluggish swamps.
Black mangroves have shiny leaves and dark round seed cases. Their most distinguishing feature is their pnuemataphores, finger-like protrusions around the tree like slender, miniature cypress knees.
The state tree of Florida, the cabbage palm (also called sabal palm) is an iconic symbol found in almost every habitat in Florida, although it is less frequently seen in upland areas.
Large puffy lichens, such as pale greenish-gray Cladina evansii and yellowish Cladina subtenuis are lumped under the colloquial name of deer moss.
Florida rosemary (Ceratiola ericoides) is not related to the edible herb rosemary, which is in the mint family. It is one of the showier shrubs in scrub habitat due to its rounded shape and sometimes enormous size.
Southeast Florida is home to two poisonous trees, the poisonwood and the manchineel. Learn how to recognize them so you don’t get too close, and find out how truly dangerous they are.
Gulf Coast lupine (Lupinus westianus) is a threatened species found in sandhill/clayhill habitats in the far western corner of Florida.
A night bloomer that begins to close as daylight arrives, moonflower (Ipomoea alba) is commonly seen around Lake Okeechobee and throughout the Big Cypress as a draping vine cascading over trees and shrubs.
Red mangroves are the easiest of the mangroves to identify due to their “walking legs” root systems. Note the bean-pod-like “roots” at their bases: these are miniature mangroves spawning, fully formed plants waiting to float off with the next high tide.
The thick succulent leaves of saltwort are commonly seen along coastal fringes and mangrove forests. Used as a medicinal herb and as a tea, saltwort is thought to relieve asthma, constipation, and gout
It’s found throughout Florida, in freshwater marshes and along the rim of saltwater marshes, and is by far one of the showiest grasses in Florida, especially when the huge tufts are ruffled by a breeze – sand cordgrass.
Slowly suffocating its host by creating a leafy canopy above it and roots that surround it, the strangler fig (Ficus aurea) earns its name. You’ll see it throughout tropical habitats in South Florida.
One of Florida’s showiest wildflowers, the swamp sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius) comes into its glory in numerous locations around the state in the fall
White mangroves are the most tree-like of the mangrove family. They have oval light green leaves—the other mangroves have dark green, elliptical leaves.