What is a Florida Native Plant?
A "Florida native plant" refers to a species occurring within the state boundaries prior to European contact, according to the best available scientific and historical documentation.
Non-Native, Alien, Introduced or Exotic plants are those whose natural range does not include Florida. These species may have been introduced intentionally or accidentally.
Invasive Plants are exotic plants that are aggressive and negatively impact native plant communities. A native plant can be aggressive but not invasive.
Being non-native does not mean that a plant is invasive. Of the more than 20,000 plants that have been introduced to Florida, fewer than 300 are generally considered to be invasive.
Native plants are critical sources of food, shelter and nesting area for wildlife. Animals depend on our native plants to survive. Some native butterflies lay their eggs only on native plants.
Florida is made up of diverse ecosystems which provide us with clear air, clean drinking water, stable soils, protection from floods and rising seas, recreation and natural beauty. Each ecosystem is sustained by Native Plant Communities, adapted over thousands of years to the particular ecosystem.
Pinellas County consists primarily of Pine Flatwoods, Sandhills and Beaches|Dunes & Maritime Forest plant communities. Click to learn more about plants and landscapes that naturally occur in Pinellas County.
Florida has many threatened and endangered native plant species, more than any state except California. Rapid development and invasive exotics threaten many of the state’s diverse and unique plants, including natives like the ghost orchid, pitcher plant, and wild columbine.
There are good reasons to grow native plants.
- They preserve the character of the Florida landscape.
- They support native animals including butterflies, wild bees (and economically valuable honey bees), other insects, birds, and wildlife.
- Planted in appropriate settings, natives help conserve water. If you look around in nature, you'll note that natives are growing quite well on rainfall.
- Planted in appropriate settings, natives minimize fertilizer use. Much of Florida has nutrient-poor soils, and the species that grow naturally in those soils do so without need of fertilizer.
And they are beautiful! When you include Florida native plants in your landscape, you celebrate the unique natural beauty of the "Real Florida."
Online Resources for Florida Native Plants
- Native Gardens, Plant Nurseries and Retailers
- Native Plants for Your Area
- Florida Friendly Plant Database
- Native Plant Communities Map by County
- Florida’s Wildflowers and Butterflies
- Florida Natural Area’s Inventory
- IFAS Assessment of Exotics|Invasives
- Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council Invasive Plant List