Native species are generally defined as those species that are indigenous to or naturally occurring in a particular geographic region, ecosystem or habitat without human assistance or intervention. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection further designates native species as ones that “occurred in Florida at the time of European contact or 1500s.” This period marks a significant change to the Florida landscape with both the removal of many native habitats for settlement purposes and the introduction of species from Europe and elsewhere around the world. Although this delineation is considered arbitrary by many, and while this definition has remained somewhat controversial, it is generally agreed upon by most Florida botanists.
Native plants are better suited for the ecological conditions of their particular habitats than non-nativespecies. They fill ecological niches such as food sources and shelter for particular organisms. Over time, native species have evolved mechanisms that help them survive the harsh conditions of Florida’s environment such as hurricane-force winds and rain, sustained periods of drought and seasonal climate fluctuations. These conditions also act as natural controls that may instigate succession, maintain plant populations within the habitat and allow other habitat-specific plants to flourish. Other natural controls include healthy competition with other native plants, native (naturally-occurring) diseases and predatory insects and animals. Natural controls help maintain a balance among native species and allow for more diversity in both the flora and fauna that utilize them.
*Click here to download a PDF of the Genius Preserve Comprehensive Species Inventory, a full list of all species identified on the Genius Preserve including exotic/invasive species as well as those utilized in restoration and other planting projects.