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Seven Flora and Fauna that Can Only Be Found in the Everglades

The Everglades is home to many unique plant and animal species, mostly because it’s the farthest-north tropical environment in the world. It is the only true tropical forest in the northern hemisphere. The flora and fauna found in the Everglades are without peer.

Fauna

Florida Panther & Florida Black Bear – This entry gets two, since you’re not likely to see either of them. Both species are critically endangered, so count yourself lucky if you see the slight frame and tan fur of the Florida Panther, or hear the inquisitive snuffling of the Florida Black Bear. Well, count yourself lucky, back away slowly, and hope the animal isn’t hungry.

Photos by digitalart and yakin669

American Crocodile – The American alligator is common all across the continent, but the sharp-nosed, burly American crocodile is only found in the Everglades. This baby can grow up to twenty feet long, and floats along as silently as a log. It eats panthers and black bears for breakfast. Moral of the story: don’t get in the water!

Photo by birdsbeaks

Snail Kite – This bird has the shape and size of a peregrine falcon and the coloring of a red-tailed hawk. It only lives in the Everglades because its prey only lives in the everglades. The applesnail, endemic to the subtropical climate of the rain forest, lives in the swampy regions where fresh and salt water combine, and the snail kite’s sole purpose in life is to snatch applesnails from the water.

Photo by lastingimages

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Flora

Mangroves – Mangroves make the Everglades what they are. While there are many species of mangrove all over the world, the Everglades is home to three unique varieties. For many, the heat, humidity, and thickness of the swamp are perfectly represented by the mangrove, with its roots often free-standing in saline water. Mangroves are the wall between the freshwater swamp and the sawgrass marshes out to sea.

Photo by keithbaer

Saw Palmetto – Speaking of sawgrass, the saw palmetto is a tiny palm tree with a foot-tall trunk. Basically, it’s a pokey shrub that is endemic to the Everglades. If you’re ever wading through what look like little spiky shrubs, a lot like shin-high pine trees, that’s what’s known as a saw palmetto. Remember it!

Photo by gmark1

Southern Live Oak – The world’s oldest naval vessel, “Old Ironsides” is built from the wood of the Southern Live Oak, only found in the Everglades. Gnarled and twisted by the swamp, these oak trees tower over the mangroves, palmettos, and animals. Alongside the Everglades mahogany, the Southern Live Oak is one of the most highly-demanded hardwoods that grow in the park.

Photo by jimbrekke

Ghost Orchid – Finally, there are over twenty unique species of orchid to be found in the Everglades. Some of them display themselves in full color, but others are hidden away for perceptive explorers to find. The Ghost Orchid is one such plant, popularized by the movie “Adaptation” for its strangely human features. It looks like a little spirit on a stem, colored ghostly purple/blue. If you manage to find a ghost orchid, good on you! But if you find any orchids in the swamps, you can definitely count yourself victorious.

Photo by metaphora

The wildlife in the Everglades alone is enough of a reason to get on your computer and look for the best hotel rates and cheap flights to Orlando. So do it already!

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