Florida has some 3,500 plants, and of 344 trees, 80 percent are native to the United States. Many are sensitive to subtle changes in moisture, resulting in river bottoms and low water-filled hammocks containing oaks and varieties of gum, riverbanks abundant in cypress, and high, dry regions supporting pines.
As you walk on nature trails in Florida, you'll notice hundreds of different species of wildflowers — among them wild orchids, such as the rare spider orchid that blooms during the winter, spring, and summer — within the hammocks of the Everglades. Meanwhile, azaleas and camellias burst into bloom. Oleanders, hibiscus, poinsettias, gardenias, jasmine, trumpet vine, and morning glory thrive almost everywhere. For brilliant floral displays, nothing can match a blooming royal poinciana or a colorful shower of bougainvillea along the southern shores.
You'll see a variety of epiphytic plants — those that use another plant for physical support but don't depend on it for nutrients–in tropical hammocks. Orchids and bromeliads such as Spanish moss hang from tree branches. The most aggressive is the strangler fig, which sends out aerial roots that soon bind the host, preventing growth of its trunk and eventually choking out the host's foliage with its own.
Just about everywhere you go along Florida's coasts you'll see all types of ferns, among them the Boston, mosquito, bracken, cinnamon, royal, and resurrection varieties. Plus there are about 100 species of palms. You'll see the cabbage palmetto and the saw palmetto most frequently, and the classic royal palm more near Fort Myers and in the Fakahatchee Strand. The coconut palm, the one most people associate with palm trees, thrives in the warmer temperatures of South Florida.