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Florida Rosemary (Ceratiola ericoides)

Florida rosemary
Florida rosemary

Not related to the culinary rosemary from the Mediterranean region, the poorly-named Florida rosemary is a characteristic scrub plant with many specialized adaptations to the harsh scrub environment. The needle-like leaves conserve water by reducing evaporation. The rounded dome-like shape, typical of many scrub plants, protects from wind and blowing sand damage. Rosemary plants release a chemical into the soil that prevents the germination of their own seeds. The seeds remain in the soil and do not germinate until after the parent plant dies, thus insuring a sunny spot for the new plant. Like many scrub plants, rosemary is aromatic, the result of volatile oils in the foliage that probably serve to protect the plant from being eaten.

Some Florida scrubs are so droughty with deep, loose sands that Florida rosemary is the only shrub that can survive. These "Rosemary balds" are among the most beautiful, and harshest, natural landscapes in Florida.

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