Native Plant Communities

Coastal Rock Barren

Synonyms: Tidal Rock Barren
Community Variants: Keys Tidal Rock Barren

The most common coastal rock barren, found in the Florida keys, is what FNAI calls Keys Tidal Rock Barren.  There are some areas with similar hydrology hydrology and substrates but more northern vegetation along the coasts near Crystal River, having this classification retain the Coastal Rock Barren name to represent all of them.

The rock barrens have  limestone substrates.  They are inundated by salt water only during extreme high tides.  (Ross et al. 1992).  Patches of salt-tolerant herbaceous species include seaside oxeye daisy (Borrichia spp.), perennial glasswort (Salicornia ambigua), saltwort (Batis maritima), shoregrass (Distichlis littoralis), saltgrass (Distichlis spicata), seashore dropseed (Sporobolus virginicus) , and marsh fimbry (Fimbrisylis spadicea). In the keys, buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus) is a dominant woody plant. Other woody species include red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle), black mangrove (Avicennia germinans), white mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa), and christmasberry (Lycium carolianum).  (Keys description based on  The more northern variants have fewer or no mangroves.  

In the Florida keys, rare plants include joewood (Jacquinia keyensis) and Florida semaphore cactus (Opuntia corallicola).

Good examples can be seen on Big Pine Key and Little Torch Key (in TNC preserve). Along the Gulf Coast, some can be seen along the road to Ozello.



Florida Department of Environmental Protection. 1992. Soil and Water Relationships of Florida's Ecological Communities

Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI). 2010. Guide to the natural communities of Florida: 2010 edition. Florida Natural Areas Inventory, Tallahassee, FL. and, for Florida keys coastal rock barrens,

Gann, G.D., K.A. Bradley, and S.W. Woodmansee. 2009. Floristic Inventory of South Florida Database. Institute for Regional Conservation.

Knight, G. R., J. B. Oetting, and L. Cross.  2011.  Atlas of Florida's Natural Heritage - Biodiversity, Landscapes, Stewardship and Opportunities:  Institute of Science and Public Affairs, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL.

Myers, R.L. and J.J. Ewel (eds.). 1990. Ecosystems of Florida University of Central Florida Press: Orlando.

Ross, M.S., J.J. O'Brien, and L.J. Flynn. 1992. Ecological site classification of Florida Keys terrestrial habitats. Biotropica 24:488-502.

Whitney, E.N., D. B. Means, A. Rudloe. 2004. Priceless Florida: Natural Ecosystems and Native Species. Pineapple Press.

Date Updated 0000-00-00 00:00:00


Opuntia corallicola (semaphore cactus), an endangered species found only in coastal rock barrens in extreme south Florida.  Photo by Shirley Denton.


Rocky substrate in zone which inundates with high tides.  Near Ozello.  Photo by Shirley Denton.