What Are Some Native Florida Plants?


Quick Answer

The coral honeysuckle vine is a plant native to Florida that attracts hummingbirds and butterflies because of its clusters of bright coral-red tubular flowers. Blue porterweed is a fast-growing native Florida shrub with brilliant blue flowers partway up its swirling, upright stems. The thatch palm is also native to Florida.

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One of the most common native plants in Florida is the sabal palm featuring deep green leaves in a typical fan shape. Often called the cabbage palm, it attains a height of 20 feet. Native to the coastal areas of Florida, the Jamaica dogwood is a small tree that grows to a 35-foot height with an irregular crown of gnarly branches.

The resurrection fern is a Florida native that is often found on trees but is not parasitic. Its small fronds are dark green and open when moist, but they curl up and appear dead when dry, only to revive again after rain.

According to the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Science Extension, there are numerous, often conflicting definitions of what constitutes a "native plant." The U.S. Federal Government, the National Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service generally use the definition that a native plant is any plant that has previously or currently naturally occurred within an ecosystem. On the other hand, the State of Florida's statute relating to native plants is slightly more specific, defining a native plant as any plant species that is thought to have been present in Florida prior to European contact.

This second definition makes it quite hard to actually determine whether or not many plant species are actually native to Florida. Therefore, in cases where there is not enough scientific or historical evidence to decisively conclude whether or not a plant is native, the plant is automatically assumed to be non-native. Another issue in determining which plants are native to Florida is that the original boundaries of the state used to extend into Louisiana, making it hard to distinguish between species that originated in these areas only and not within the state's modern-day boundaries.

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