The purpose of the Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS) is to promote the preservation, conservation, and restoration of the native plants and native plant communities of Florida. This blog presents ideas and information to further the cause of Florida's native plants and ecosystems.
Plant Profile: Sea Oats (Uniola paniculata)
Figure 1. Sea oats growing along the dunes.
This post is one of a series from Botany professor Nisse Goldberg's students at Jacksonville University. Student authors:Jennifer Scaduto and Lori Waite
If you have ever been to a sandy beach in the state of Florida then you have likely seen sea oats. This grass can grow up to 6 ft tall and the individual grass leaves can be as big as 2 ft long and 1 in wide. Like most grasses, the leaves are long and tapered.
These grasses are extraordinarily tough. Naturally growing in coastal dunes, they thrive in the hot sands, where the top layer can reach temperatures between 120⁰ and 127⁰ F. Unlike many other dune plants, sea oats are found along the dune crest and can tolerate daily exposure to sea spray. They even can withstand hurricane winds and periods of drought. The plant has a special relationship with vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal (VAM) fungi. The fungi bind to the roots (in a positive way!) and thereby increase access to nutrients for a plant growing in such a challenging habitat.
These plants are important in the preservation of Florida sand dunes. Once a plant is established, their roots can be very extensive (up to 30 feet in length!). The roots and rhizomes help to stabilize shifting sands along the foredune and dune crest, thereby preventing erosion.
By helping to protect the dunes, sea oats provide habitat for many plants and the seeds are food for animals such as the federally endangered beach mouse (Peromyscus polionotus) and songbirds. The base of sand dunes is where the highly endangered sea turtles lay their eggs.
Sea oats therefore have a great environmental and economic value to the state of Florida. In fact, these plants are protected by state law. The plants are far from being endangered, but it is still illegal to pick wild sea oats, even the seeds. So please, take care of our sea oats!
Barbour, M. (2000). North American Terrestrial Vegetation. Cambridge University Press.
Austrailian Pine fruits Australian pines seem to be everywhere in the coastal regions in the bottom half of Florida. Their name is deceiving because, while they are native to Australia, they aren't pines or even conifers. They are flowering trees with separate male and female flowers, and what look like needles are really green twiglets with close-set circles of tiny leaves that drop at the first sign of a drought. In the photo to the right, the light-colored lines are where leaves where once attached. Most of the photosynthesis takes place in the twiglets. There are three species of Australian pine ( Casuarina spp ) that have been imported into Florida for various purposes. They were widely planted to soak up the "swamps" in Florida, stabilize canals, and hold beaches. Unfortunately for Florida's ecosystems, the "pines" accomplished all this and more--like seeding prolifically, growing five feet or more per year, producing dense shade, and emitting
Spanish Needle, Bidens Alba Submitted by Donna Bollenbach, Suncoast Chapter Biden's alba , all photos by Donna Bollenbach Nothing attracts more butterflies and bees than a simple white flower called Bidens alba . Also called Romerillo, Beggar’s Tick, Spanish Needle or Monkey’s Lice, this Florida native wildflower is the third most reliable source of nectar for pollinators in our state. There would be many starving bees and butterflies if not for the Bidens family of flowers. More so, Bidens alba and its sister plant, Bidens pilosa , are both edible and have medicinal value. Yet, many gardeners have a love/hate relationship the plant, and some even consider it a pesky weed. Why?
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