Florida Native Plant Communities

Do you know Florida's native plant communities?

Have you ever wondered what the heck a scrubby flatwoods is or what the difference is between a slough and a wet prairie?

Well, wonder no more! The FNPS website includes a Native Plant Communities page with all of Florida's complex ecosystems explained and illustrated by photos.

The communities are organized into 13 broad categories: Xeric Uplands, Dry Mesic Uplands, Mesic Uplands, Wet Flatlands, Seepage Wetlands, Moving Water Wetlands, Floodplain Wetlands, Basin Wetlands, Rocklands, Coastal Uplands, Coastal Wetlands, Flowing Water Systems, and Lakes & Ponds. There are two or more specific communities under each broad category. Isn't Florida amazing?

Why is it important to be familiar with all this?

Whether you are just planting natives in your yard or working on a true restoration project, it's important to know what is likely to have been there 500 years ago.  Knowing Florida's native plant communities or ecosystems and the plants that grow there will help you to choose the best plants for your projects.

A sample of Florida's Native Plant Communities

Under the broad category of Moving Water Wetlands, this is the description for "Swale."

Under the broad category of Moving Water Wetlands, this is the description for "Slough."

Under the broad category of Flowing Water Systems, this is the description for "Blackwater Stream."

Under the broad category of Lakes and Ponds, this is the description for "Acidic Low Nutrient Lakes."
The FNPS website has many valuable resources for native plant enthusiasts, but the page on Florida's native plant communities is one of the most important.  Thanks to founding FNPS member Shirley Denton for her insight and photographs of Florida's ecosystems.


Written and posted by Ginny Stibolt.

Update: Several people wrote to ask for references on these communities.  Here is the initial list, which will be posted on the next version of the FNPS website:


The majority of these references were written by members of the Florida Native Plant Society!. Thanks to all of them for their contributions to native plant ecology in Florida.
Austin, Daniel F.; Jones, Julie L.; and Bennett, Bradley C.. 1986 (Summer). The Fakahatchee Strand. 6, #2:3-6.http://fnps.org/assets/pdf/palmetto/austin_daniel_f_et_al_the_fakahatchee_strand_vol_6_no_2_summer_1986.pdf
Batista, W.B., and W.J. Platt. 1997. An old-growth definition for southern mixed hardwood forests. General Technical Report SRS-9. United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Southern Research Station, Asheville, North Carolina.
Bradley, K., and G. Gann. 1999. The pine rockland forests of southern Florida. The Palmetto 19:12-19.http://fnps.org/assets/pdf/palmetto/bradley_keith__george_gann_the_pine_rockland_forests_of_florida_vol_19_no_2_summer_1999.pdf
Clewell, A.F. 1986. Natural setting and vegetation of the Florida Panhandle - An account of the environments and plant communities of northern Florida west of the Suwannee River. Report No. COESAM/PDEI-86/001. United States Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District, Alabama.
Daubenmire, R. 1990. The Magnolia grandiflora-Quercus virginiana forest of Florida. American Midland Naturalist 123:331-347.
Delcourt, H.R., and P.A. Delcourt. 1977. Presettlement magnolia-beech climax of the Gulf Coastal Plain: quantitative evidence from the Apalachicola River Bluffs, North-Central Florida. Ecology 58:1085-1093.
Florida Department of Environmental Protection. 1992. Soil and Water Relationships of Florida's Ecological Communities http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/wetlands/delineation/docs/soil-and-water.pdf
Duever, L.C. 1986. Florida's Natural Communities: Overwash Plains and Coastal Berms. The Palmetto 6:10-11. http://fnps.org/assets/pdf/palmetto/v06i1p10duever.pdf
Duever, Linda. 1984 (February). Florida's Natural Communities: Seepage Communities. The Palmetto 4, #1:1-2, 10-11. http://fnps.org/assets/pdf/palmetto/v04i1p1duever.pdf
Duever, Linda. 1988 (Summer). Florida's Natural Communities: Mesic Hammock. The Palmetto 8, #2:4-5. http://fnps.org/assets/pdf/palmetto/v08i2p4duever.pdf
Duever, Linda. 1983 (November). Florida's Natural Communities: Coastal Dunes. The Palmetto 3, #4:4-5. http://fnps.org/assets/pdf/palmetto/v03i4p4duever.pdf
Duever, Linda. 1985-86 (Winter). Florida's Natural Communities: Coastal Mounds. The Palmetto 5, #4:15. http://fnps.org/assets/pdf/palmetto/v05i4p15duever.pdf
Duever, Linda. 1985 (Spring). Florida's Natural Communities: Cypress Swamps. The Palmetto 5, #1:4-5.http://fnps.org/assets/pdf/palmetto/duever_linda_conway_natural_communities_of_floridas_cypress_swamps_vol_5_no_1_spring_1985.pdf
Duever, Linda. 1984-85 (Winter). Florida's Natural Communities: Flatwoods. The Palmetto 4, #4:6.http://fnps.org/assets/pdf/palmetto/duever_linda_conway_natural_communities_of_floridas_flatwoods_vol_4_no_4_winter_1984.pdf
Duever, Linda. 1984 (September). Florida's Natural Communities: Floodplains. The Palmetto 4, #3:8-10.http://fnps.org/assets/pdf/palmetto/duever_linda_conway_natural_communities_of_floridas_floodplains_vol_4_no_3_fall_1984.pdf
Duever, Linda. 1983 (August). Florida's Natural Communities: Inland Sand Ridges. The Palmetto 3, #3:1-3, 10.http://fnps.org/assets/pdf/palmetto/duever_linda_conway_natural_communities_of_floridas_inland_sand_ridges_vol_3_no_3_aug_1983.pdf
Duever, Linda. 1984 (April). Florida's Natural Communities: Rocklands. The Palmetto 4, #2:8-11.http://fnps.org/assets/pdf/palmetto/duever_linda_conway_natural_communities_of_floridas_rocklands_vol_4_no_2_april_1984.pdf
Duever, Linda. 1987 (Summer-Fall). Florida's Natural Communities: Wet Prairies. The Palmetto 7, #2:6-7. http://fnps.org/assets/pdf/palmetto/v07i2p6duever.pdf
Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI). 2010. Guide to the natural communities of Florida: 2010 edition. Florida Natural Areas Inventory, Tallahassee, FL. http://fnai.org/naturalcommguide.cfm
Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI) and Florida Department of Natural Resources. 1990. Guide to the natural communities of Florida: 2010 edition. Florida Natural Areas Inventory, Tallahassee, FL. http://fnai.org/PDF/Natural_Communities_Guide_1990.pdf
Gann, G.D., K.A. Bradley, and S.W. Woodmansee. 2009. Floristic Inventory of South Florida Database. Institute for Regional Conservation.http://regionalconservation.org/ircs/database/database.asp
Guerin, D.N. 1993. Oak dome clonal structure and fire ecology in a Florida longleaf pine dominated community. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 120:107-114.
Laessle, A.M. 1958. The origin and successional relationship of sandhill vegetation and sand-pine scrub. Ecological Monographs 28:361-387.
Loope, L.L., D.W. Black, S. Black, and G.N. Avery. 1979. Distribution and abundance of flora in limestone rockland pine forests of southeastern Florida. South Florida Research Center, Everglades National Park, Homestead, Florida.
Myers, R.L. and J.J. Ewel (eds.). 1990. Ecosystems of Florida University of Central Florida Press: Orlando.
Outcalt, K.W. 1997. An old-growth definition for tropical and subtropical forests in Florida. General Technical Report SRS-013. United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Southern Research Station, Asheville, North Carolina.
Peet, R.K., and D.J. Allard. 1993. Longleaf pine vegetation of the southern Atlantic and eastern Gulf Coast regions: a preliminary classification. Pages 45-82 in S.M. Hermann, editor. The Longleaf Pine Ecosystem: Ecology, Restoration and Management. Proceedings of the Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference, No. 23. Tall Timbers Research Station, Tallahassee, Florida.
Schiffer, Donna M. Hydrology of central Florida lakes : a Primer. U.S. Geological SurveyCircular 1137. http://fl.water.usgs.gov/PDF_files/c1137_schiffer.pdf
Simons, R.W. 1990. Terrestrial and freshwater habitats. Pages 99-157 in S.H. Wolfe, editor. An ecological characterization of the Florida Springs Coast: Pithlachascotee to Waccasassa Rivers. Biological Report 90(21). United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, DC.
USDA Soil Conservation Service. 198_. 26 Ecological Communities of Florida. http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00000110/00001
Whitney, E.N., D. B. Means, A. Rudloe. 2004. Priceless Florida: Natural Ecosystems and Native Species. Pineapple Press.


Keys Treasures said…
I wish my swale looked like that.

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