Native Flora

  • Saltwort and glasswort are abundant across coastal prairies

coastal prairie, buttonwood

Buttonwood. Photo courtesy NOAA

Plants within the coastal prairie habitat are able to tolerate salt and extreme weather conditions. However, strong winds and harsh weather result in the felling of many trees. The dead trees are referred to as snags and quickly become home to a variety of epiphytes including orchids and air plants. 

coastal prairie, glasswort

Perennial Glasswort (Salicornia virginica). Photo © James Reiter

coastal prairie, saltwort

Saltwort (Batis maritime). Photo © Alan Harper

 

The majority of the coastal prairie is covered by saltwort (Batis maritima), perennial glasswort(Salicornia virginica), annual glasswort (Salicornia bigelovii), and small buttonwood trees. Saltwort is a pale green, low-growing succulent with curved leaves, while the glasswort has no leaves and is light green during the summer months and red throughout the autumn. These plants provide cover for the small animals that reside within this harsh habitat.

Other plants commonly associated with coastal prairies include:

  • sea daisy (Borrichia frutescens), not sown
  • sea purslane (Sesuvium portulacastrum), not shown
coastal prairie, black mangrove

Black mangrove (Avicennia germinans) © Cathleen Bester Florida Museum

coastal prairie, red mangrove

Red mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa) © Cathleen Bester / Florida Museum

coastal prairie, white mangrove

White mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa). Photo courtesy National Park Service

 

coastal prairie, mosquito

Mosquito. Photo © Jo-Ann Ordano, California Academy of Sciences

Native Fauna

  • Species diversity is low in coastal prairies due to harsh conditions and a lack of cover

The diversity of wildlife is very limited within coastal prairie habitat, primarily due to the lack of protective cover as well as harsh environmental conditions. Mosquitoes thrive in these areas and are thick except during cool, dry winter weather. The endangered marsh rabbit (Sylvilagus palustris) lives in the coastal prairies of south Florida. It is reddish brown with a gray underside and tail and feeds on marsh and prairie plants. Birds of prey such as the osprey (Pandion haliaetus) often visit the coastal prairies, perching on dead branches while they consume their prey. 

hammocks, marsh rabbit

Marsh rabbit (Sylvilagus palustris). Photo courtesy National Park Service

mangrove, osprey

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus). Photo courtesy South Florida Water Management District

 

Glossary terms on page:

diversity: refers to the variety of species within a given association, areas of high diversity are characterized by a great variety of species.