Florida is home to an incredible variety of native plants, with more than 4,700 species of vascular plants and bryophytes. From the popular and striking purple passion flower (Passiflora incarnata) to the resilient fiery star (also known as gay plumes and colic root), there is a wide range of native plants that can be found in Central Florida. The Institute of Systematic Botany of the University of South Florida has established a comprehensive, searchable database of plants from the state of Florida, known as the Florida Plant Atlas. This is a great resource for identifying native plants in Central Florida. Landscaping with native plants is beneficial for both the environment and local ecosystems.
Native plants are well-adapted to the warm, humid climate of the Sunshine State, so they require minimal maintenance and are less likely to be affected by pests or diseases. Some examples of native plants in Central Florida include gumbo-limbo, which is native to South Florida and the Keys, and several species of violets, such as the common blue violet, Walter violet, white swamp violet, and sand violet. There are also three native species of star anise (Illicium anisatum, Illicium floridanum, and Illicium parviflorum) with red, white or yellow flowers. If you find a plant while exploring Key West and want help identifying it, you can use a coupon specimen. This is a pressed, fully dried plant sample that is deposited in a herbarium and is intended to be a permanent record that supports research purposes.
For example, aguileña is a wildflower that comes in many colors, but species native to Florida have interesting red and yellow flowers that attract hummingbirds. To perform effective lake sampling using the Lake Vegetative Index (LVI), it is important to know the aquatic plants that are likely to be found. Identifying native plants in Central Florida can be a fun and rewarding experience. With the help of the Florida Plant Atlas and other resources, you can learn more about the incredible variety of native plants in this region and how to best care for them.
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