Time on the beach, for me, includes checking out the plants on the inland edges. My newness to the area had me assuming that this thick, prolific mass was native to the area. Closer study has taught me this is not the case.
Natal Plum (Carissa macrocarpa) is the African relative of Florida’s native Coco Plum. Both species live on the sandy shores. Both have edible plum-like fruits. Natal Plums’s invasive character includes spine tipped leaves which are oft overlooked with focus going to their graceful year-long blooming white flowers and reddish fruit.
This image shows new Sea Purslane (Sesuvium portulacastrum), a salt-loving, heat tolerant vine that easily anchors in sand dunes and beaches. The stalk is red when exposed to salt and sand; both of which were plentiful at this location, Lauderdale by the Sea’s beach. The pink flowers had not yet developed, but will be present year-round once the plant matures. More and more green space is appearing on the beach as erosion efforts have become more “natural”.
Last summer I posted a request for help with identifying this oft seen flowering vine along the shore of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The flower resembles a petunia, but the leaves do not seem to belong to the flower I know by this name. My appetite for learning about this environment, so different from Chicago, has me slowly concocting a Southern Florida reference section to our library. In spite of seemingly limitless internet reference sites, I find I still turn to old-fashioned BOOKS as a way to double-check my online learning. (Besides BOOKS are great when one is not “connected”). Now my job becomes matching my observations to specific referenced species.
Meet the Railroad Vine a native to southern Florida beaches, unlike myself. This plant is actually a variety of Morning Glory. The long vine and succulent leaves help this plant thrive amidst the strong winds and inconsistent moisture of beaches and dune. Blooms, typical of its family, open in the morning and last only one day. However, this vine is prolific in flower production, so each morning new flowers open to bring tropical color to the otherwise neutral beach setting.