Native Plant Communities

Strand Swamp

Strand swamp is a shallow, forested, usually elongated depression or channel situated in a trough within a flat limestone plain.  At least during high water periods, there is some flow to the water.  These channels typically build up deep layers of peat over mineral substrates.  The hydroperiods are long.

Large strand swamps are dominated  by bald cypress while smaller strand swamps and shallow edges are likely to be dominated by pond cypress.  The typical strand contains some red maple, pond apple , swamp laurel oak, cabbage palm strangler fig, swamp bay, sweetbay magnolia, coastalplain willow, wax myrtle, myrsine, and buttonbush with the specific species mix being dependent on climate and water depth. Herbs include string lily, giant leather fern, toothed midsorus fern, royal fern, sawgrass, and waterhyssops.

The warm, humid climate in deep, southern strand swamps make them ideal habitat for epiphytic orchids and bromeliads. This plant community supports rare species including the ghost orchid.  

A good example is the core of Corkscrew Swamp Audubon Preserve.  Explore the boardwalk at the Audubon Preserve to see it.  Other strand swamps can be found in the Big Cypress National Preserve and Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park.


Austin, Daniel F.; Jones, Julie L.; and Bennett, Bradley C.. 1986 (Summer). The Fakahatchee Strand. 6, #2:3-6.

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.

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.

USDA Soil Conservation Service. 1986. 26 Ecological Communities of Florida.

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

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Strand swamp in Fakahatchee Strand State Park.  Photo by Shirley Denton.


Corckscrew Swamp.  Photo by Shirley Denton.