Floridians are in love with exotic plants. Their yards planted to resemble a tropical island, a rainforest, or an African jungle. While there are many tropical plants native to Florida, more often than not the plants in these landscapes are not natives, and some are even harming our environment. Florida is not a tropical island, it is not a rainforest, nor is it an African jungle, so why are so many people trying to make it something it is not?
Native plants belong here: They are part of our history, our heritage, and our unique character.
|Florida, before settlement, had miles of open habitats, including grasslands and prairies, like this landscape at Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park. Most of it has given way to development and agriculture.|
Okay, so why is planting natives the right thing to do?
|Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana), a native shrub, is food for wildlife, has medicinal value.|
|Native plants support our pollinators.|
|Native plants provide nurseries for fish and protect our water supply.|
|A meadowlark gathers nesting material in a wax myrtle shrub (Myrica cerifera).|