There are quite a few native emersed plants in Florida that provide food for the wildlife in the area. Rising above the water's surface, the plants require a steady supply of water. The impressive amount of water in Florida results in many of the plants being listed as invasive. The right climate and conditions make it simple to take over an area, threatening or destroying other habitat. Before planting any type of vegetation around homes in Tampa, check with the university or Department of Agriculture to learn about its characteristics.
Lake hygrophila, a semi-aquatic herb, is native to the swamps and wet hammocks of Central Florida. This rooted plant grows quite enthusiastically in slow moving water that is less than 6 feet deep. It is able to create floating thick mats of unattached plants. The brittle stems, which reach an average length of 6 inches, are cylindrical when underwater and have a four-square appearance above the water. Leaves are oval with broad points; the native lake hygrophila has larger leaves than other species. The flowers range in color from white to light blue. Hygrophila interferes with aquatic life and water use.
A common sight in the wetlands, cat-tails are one of the most common aquatic plants in the world. They offer nesting locations and protection to wildlife. The leaf is stiff and resembles a strap. Tiny flowers appear in clusters. Stems grow up to 9 feet in height, topped with deep brown cylinder-shaped flower spikes. Their name comes from the resemblance to the fluffed-out appearance of an angry cat's tail. They populate rivers and lakes, as well as the wetlands.
An interesting creeping herb, lemon bacopa is an emersed plant common to brackish and fresh waters. It is one of at least three bacopa plants native to Florida. The flowers have 4 to 5 small blue petals. The thick, succulent leaves are slightly over half an inch long and extremely narrow, while the upper stem is hairy. Crushed leaves produce a lemony scent.
Swollen underground stems give the duck potato its name. Large, wide leaves are shaped like lances and grow to 2 feet in length. They fan out from the rhizomes. The most remarkable feature of this plant is the 3-petal white flowers high above the stems, typically a foot or more above the leaves. This plant is found in ditches and swamps, as well as the lakes and streams of Florida.
The incredible variety of plants that grow in yards and homes in Tampa delight residents. The number of aquatic plants in the various wetlands, parks and preserves is invites locals and visitors to enjoy their beauty.