Identify Native Plants

What is a native plant?

Typically, an indigenous species that lives and thrives in a particular ecosystem is considered native there. The native range of a species can be extremely limited (such as the pine rockland areas of South Florida) or nearly worldwide in many ecosystems.

Recent and catastrophic change, whether naturally occuring (like volcanic activity) or, more often, caused by human activity (like development and climate change), challenges us to redefine native species in a rapidly-changing environment. New standards for reference ecosystems or "provenancing strategies" are being developed by the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) to help manage natural land and restored ecosystems. These new reference ecosystems take into account the adaptive changes of some species and the rapid natural migration of certain species. Many species cannot adapt to rapid change and will become locally extint. Under rapid change, many rare and endemic species are in danger of gloral extinction.

Endemic species are native only within a particular place or region and nowhere else in the world. Florida endemic species are native to particular places, but only within Florida. Species native to Broward may beIf one of those places  is within Broward county, that Florida endemic species is native in Broward. 

How do I know if a plant is native or not?

We recommend the Institute for Regional Conservation (IRC) online as the most reliable source of native status of species in South Florida. The IRC has two databases: 1) a comprehensive and searchable list of native species and the natural areas where they can be seen, and 2) a large and diverse list of native species with cultivation information for gardeners and landscapers. The University of South Florida Atlas of Vascular Plants is a good resourse for all of Florida, for its map of counties where each species is found natively, for voucher cards online, and other features. The Florida Native Plant Society database has most of the features of the other databases and has a user-friendly search for species in any Florida county.

How can I identify the species of a plant I encounter?

Learning native species in Broward Chapter presentations and field trips and learning from others who can identify native species is helpful.

Cowhorn Orchid