Coastal Vegetation #2

This topic submitted by Mary Keppler ( mlkeppler@hotmail.com) at 8:21 PM on 4/30/05.

Check out this huge M. annularis and accompanying fish at Molasses Reef, Key Largo, Florida.

Tropical Field Courses -Western Program-Miami University


As a way to educate the group about the common types of vegetation we will see, I am going to compile a mini field guide on ten coastal species. The family, niche, and a picture of each specie will be available on the powerpoint presentation. Depending on the time of the presentation, some examples may be available as well. Here is a skeleton version of the information I have gathered on each plant so far. Pictures and sources will be coming soon.
Avicennia germinans
Family: Avicenniaceae/Verbenaceae
Common name: Black Mangrove
Evergreen tree which averages 14-20 meters
Halophyte, salt crystals on leaves, pneumatophores
Grows on higher soils than Rhizophora mangle
Tolerates salt concentration flux
Flowers: four petals, white with yellow throat, arranged in cymes, attracts bees
lightest color of mangrove
Foliage: pale gray-green, shiny, salt covered, oblong

Borrichia arborescens
Pronunciation: bor-RICK-ee-uh ar-bor-ESS-enz
Common name: Silver Sea-Oxeye/Tall Sea-Oxeye Daisy
Family: Compositae
shrub, native to Florida, attracts butterflies
Grows 2-4 feet/silver-green foliage/woody/yellow flowers
Foliage: leaves fleshly, leathery, gray-green
Flowers: daisy-like, disks larger than rays
Fruits: small, needle-like

Coccoloba uvifera
Pronunciation: koe-koe-LOE-buh yoo-VIFF-er-uh
Common name: Sea grape
Family: Polygonaceae
native to North America
grows in a variety of forms
Foliage: broad, evergreen leaves, leathery, circular, distinct red viens, younger foliage is bronze
Flowers: ivory, small
Fruit: dense clusters of 1” green grapes (female trees only), ripen to purple, edible

Ipomoea pescaprae
Pronunciation: ipp-oh-MEE-uh pess-kuh-PREE
Common name: Railroad Vine/Beach Morning Glory
Family: Convolvulaceae
Herbaceous/green foliage/purple flowers
Well adapted to beaches and coastal dunes
Grows in Florida, Texas, Georgia-along coast (native to FL)
Foliage:2-4” long, thick, smooth, two-lobed
Flowers: funnel shaped, 2-3” wide, pinkish/lavender, close before noon
very quick grower

Mallotonia gnaphalodes
Pronunciation: mal-loe-TOE-nee-uh naf-fuh-LOE-deez
Common name: Sea lavender
Family: Boraginaceae
native ground cover in S. Florida-landscaping uses
Grows 4-6 feet/woody/silver-green foliage/small white flowers
Foliage: pubescent, silvery, in clusters at tip of branch
Flowers: small white

Rhizophora mangle
Common name: Red Mangrove
Family: Rhizophoraceae
Foliage: Dark green, leathery
Fruit: dark brown berry
Flower: white/cream small
Arching prop roots
Grows where salt concentrations do not flux

Syringodium filiforme
Common name: Manatee Grass
Family: Cymodoceaceae
second most abundant sea grass in FL (#1 Thalassia testudium)
Foliage: uniquely cylindrical
Not algae-have true roots/stems/leaves(all contain vascular tissue)
Flowers: produced but small
Grazed on by manatees

Thalassia testudium
Common name: Turtle grass
Family: Hydrocharitaceae
Seagrass (flowering plant which lives submerged, produce oxygen)
Most common seagrass throughout Caribbean
Foliage: blades are flat and ribbon like
Colonized by epiphytes, grazed on by sea turtles and manatees
Grow from low tide level to 30 ft.
Offer shelter to seahorses and young animals

Uniola paniculata
Pronunciation: yoo-NYE-oh-luh pan-nick-yoo-LAY-tuh
Common name: Sea oats
Family: Gramineae/Poaceae
ground cover in S. Florida-landscaping uses
Grows 3-5 feet/herbaceous/green foliage/small white flowers
Highly salt tolerant
Best known dune stabilizer (endangered?)
Grows from rhizomes

Scaevola plumieri
Pronunciation: see-VOLE-luh PLOO-meer-rye
Common name: Inkberry/Beach plum
Family: Goodeniaceae
native ground cover in S. Florida-landscaping uses
Grows 1-6 feet/green foliage/woody/small white flowers
Shrub with succulent stems that root when they touch the ground
Foliage: clustered at tips of branches, thick, fleshy, glossy, green
Flowers: 1” and in clusters (barely noticeable)
Fruits: black (white?), round, glossy-one won’t hurt but don’t eat a bunch
Highly salt tolerant


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