Going Green: Plants of the Swamp
There’s no doubt that the wild animals are the main attraction on a Jean Lafitte Swamp Tour, but for botany buffs, there are also many interesting species of plants to seek out. Next time you take a swamp or airboat tour, look out for these major plants native to the Barataria Preserve in the Jean Lafitte National Park.
Jean Lafitte Swamp Tour Plants
Cypress Trees – Quite possibly the most important to the swamp Cypress Trees can be spotted all over and provide a habitat for many animals as well as protection against storm surge.
Water Hyacinth – Native to the Amazon basin, these pretty floating lavender flowers are invasive, brought into the United States during the mid 1880s from South America.
Salvinia – Salvinia is also invasive, brought into Louisiana during the 1930s from South America. This floating green fern is commonly seen on the Jean Lafitte Swamp Tour and thrives in the wet, tropical environment.
Duckweed – A common wetland vegetation, duckweed is an aquatic green flowering plant, often scene floating in the swamp.
Saw grass – Native to marsh and tropical climates, saw grass, or Cladmium, have long, sharp grassy leaves.
Louisiana Iris plants – As the name indicates, these five species of iris are native to Louisiana and their coloring ranges from rusty red to deep purple.
Bush palmetto – Officially known as Sabal imor, Bush palmetto is one of over a dozen species of palmetto palm native to the southeastern United States, characterized by its long, green palm leaves.
Wax Myrtle – Wax Myrtle, or Myrica, is a fruit bearing tree that grows flowers and berries, often with a wax coating.
Chinese Tallow – These fast-growing and easily spread species of tree are invasive to our area. They have green leaves and yellow blossoms.
Muscadine – This species of grapevine are native to the southern United States and can be spotted on the swamp tour. Their dark purple berries can be used to make wine, juice and jelly.
Spider Lily – These plants that commonly grow in wet climates along streams and lakes have long white flowers and leafless stems.
Trumpet vine flowers – These flowers bloom in a trumpet shape and have a brilliant orange color and thrive in warm, sunny areas.
Cardinal Flower Plant – Blood red in color, this perennial herbaceous plant is common to wetland ecosystems.
Swamp Rosemallow – Also known as Hibiscus grandifloras, this flowering plant with lavender petals is part of the okra family and is endemic to the southeastern United States.
Lizard’s Tail – Lizard’s Tail grows in shallow water and is an ornamental plant with white buds that are about a meter tall.
Common Cattail – Generally found in shallow water, these plants have long green leaves.
Alligator Weed – Alligator weed is usually an aquatic growing plant and flowers during warm weather with white buds.
Queen Anne’s Lace – A flowering, herbaceous plant, Queen Anne’s Lace grows between one and two feet tall with small white flowers that grow in a cluster.
Photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.