As one of the most plentiful ecosystems in the world, the Florida Everglades is a unique landscape that provides all its residents with the necessary tools to survive and thrive in South Florida. Though of course, animals are the first creatures that come to mind when thinking about resources available in the Everglades, there is a wide range of edible and medicinal plants that grow naturally in the Everglades.
Some of the most ancient and popular native plants in the Everglades include: Pennyroyal, Beauty Berry, Bracken Fern, Muscadine Grape, Dog Fennel, and Bidens Albal.
Please keep in mind, do not eat anything you may find during your tour. Doing so may pose a risk to your safety! Look but don’t touch (or eat.)
Pennyroyal is a member of the mint family and is quite common all across the North American continent. In Southwest Florida, Pennyroyal prefers to grow in sandy, sunny areas. Pennyroyal smells very similar to mint and when tasted, it leaves a menthol aftertaste. The most common use for Pennyroyal is to steep it in a hot water to make a delicious tea!
Beauty Berry is easily identifiable due to its vibrant bright purple pea-sized berries that grow in clusters. Interestingly enough, it is not the berries that are the most useful part of this plant—it’s the leaves! Crush the leaves and rub them on your skin to make a natural mosquito repellant!
Bracken Fern is a fern that grows plentifully all across Southwest Florida. Young Bracken Fern can be edible and can even be found in fine restaurants in salads. Oppositely, the adult fern can be used as emergency toilet paper! For salad, use small amounts of the fern, for toilet paper, use large amounts!
Muscadine Grapes are some of the more well-known edible plants available in South Florida. When these grapes turn dark purple or black, they are ripe for the picking! Muscadine grapes thrive best in a hot, humid environment and the bushes provide a habitat for many animals. These grapes can be used to make wine, jelly and more.
Dog Fennel attracts butterflies and can also be used as a flavorful spice on many dishes including soups and potato dishes. Additional uses, old roots can be used to start camp fires. The scent and taste of Dog Fennel is easily compared to dill.
Bidens Alba, also known as Shepard’s needles or beggarticks, is a multipurpose use plant. You can eat the white flowers and the new growth. Interestingly enough, the leaves are a natural pain reliever.
The Everglades offers hours of fun, adventure and even natural products we can use in our everyday lives! During our tour, your guide will point out any interesting flora you may come across.
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