Native Plant Communities
Community Variants: Cutthroat Seep, Calcareous Wet Prairie, Pitcherplant Prairie
Wet prairie usually occurs on acidic, nutrient-deficient, saturated soils. Flooding, if any, is brief. A calcarious variant occurs in parts of central Florida. Most are in flat topography where they occur in shallow depressional areas. These wetlands are associated with frequent fire, and in the absence of fire, they may become over-run by shrubs.
The edges of wet prairies are generally dominated by wiregrass. Other species include foxtail club-moss, cutover muhly, and savannah meadowbeauty . In the wetter portions, wiregrass may occur with, or be replaced by, species in the sedge family, such as plumed beaksedge , featherbristle beaksedge , Baldwin’s nutrush, or slenderfruit nutrush, and/or longleaved threeawn. These prairies are known for carnivorous species including pitcher plants (Sarracenia spp.), sundews (Drosera spp.), butterworts (Pinguicula spp), and bladderworts (Utricularia spp.) (description taken largely from FNAI 2010).
Wet prairies are noted for high species diversity, and especially in the panhandle, rare species. Good examples of wet prairies can be found at Kissimmee Prairie State Park and in a broad band around the main swamp, at the Audubon Corckscrew Swamp Sanctuary.
- The Pitcherplant Prairie vaiant is found in the panhandle. Good examples can be found at Apalachicola National Forest, Tate's Hell, and Garcon Point.
- Cutthroat Seeps are found on the Lake Wales Ridge. Good examples can be found at the Archbold Biological Station. Some are on slopes, hence the term "seep" but some are in shallow depressional areas. These are highly fire-dependent systems given that cutthroat grass requires fire for good germination in nature.
- Calcareous Wet Prairies are found in South Florida. Good examples can be found in Big Cypress National Preserve and Everglades National Park.
Clewell, A.F. 1986. Natural setting and vegetation of the Florida Panhandle - An account of the environments and plant communities of northern Florida west of the Suwannee River. Report No. COESAM/PDEI-86/001. United States Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District, Alabama.
Florida Department of Environmental Protection. 1992. Soil and Water Relationships of Florida's Ecological Communities http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/wetlands/delineation/docs/soil-and-water.pdf
Duever, Linda. 1984 (February). Florida's Natural Communities: Seepage Communities. The Palmetto 4, #1:1-2, 10-11. http://fnps.org/assets/pdf/palmetto/v04i1p1duever.pdf
Duever, Linda. 1987 (Summer-Fall). Florida's Natural Communities: Wet Prairies. The Palmetto 7, #2:6-7. http://fnps.org/assets/pdf/palmetto/v07i2p6duever.pdf
Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI). 2010. Guide to the natural communities of Florida: 2010 edition. Florida Natural Areas Inventory, Tallahassee, FL. http://fnai.org/naturalcommguide.cfm.
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.
Noss, R. F. 2013. Forgotten Grasslands of the South - Natural History and Conservation. Island Press, Washington.
Noss, R. F. 2018. Fire Ecology of Florida and the Southeastern Coastal Plain. University Press of Florida, Gainesville.
USDA Soil Conservation Service. 1986. 26 Ecological Communities of Florida. http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00000110/00001
Whitney, E.N., D. B. Means, A. Rudloe. 2004. Priceless Florida: Natural Ecosystems and Native Species. Pineapple Press.
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Pitcherplant Prairie in Apalachicola National Forest by Shirley Denton.
Cutthroat Seep at Archbold Biological Station by Shirley Denton.