Florida’s prairies come in two flavors: dry and wet. Just like the prairies of the Midwest, these prairies are treeless and open grasslands, many of which are seasonally inundated with water. Wildflowers like deer’s-tongue, blazing star, and pine lily thrive here, lending color to the grasslands year-round.
Prairies may contain islands of hammocks, or may be islands themselves within a pine flatwoods or scrub habitat.
Prairies can host bayheads, cypress domes, and freshwater marshes. Less than 20% of Florida’s prairies are under state protection; most have been converted to cattle ranches, sod farms, and citrus groves.
The Everglades contains the world’s only freshwater marl prairies, or sawgrass prairies, where vast expanses of razor-sharp sawgrass grow out of a base of exposed limestone covered with just a few inches of slowly flowing water, the “river of grass” that moves towards the sea.