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Saw-grass, Jamaica swamp sawgrass
Cladium jamaicense

Copyright by: Roger L. Hammer

General Landscape Uses: Primarily recommended for natural landscapes and habitat restorations.

Ecological Restoration Notes: The dominant species of much of the Everglades. Also present in a number of other wetland ecosystems including wet pinelands.

Availability: Native plant nurseries.

Description: Large herbaceous sedge with saw-toothes leaf margins.

Dimensions: Typically 3-6 feet in height; to 10 feet when in flower. Clonal and sometimes spreading and forming large patches.

Growth Rate: Moderate.

Range: Southern United States west to New Mexico and south to the Monroe County Keys; West Indies, Mexico, Central America and South America.

Map of select IRC data from peninsular Florida.

Habitats: Marshes, wet prairies and wet pinelands.

Soils: Wet, seasonally inundated freshwater to brackish soils on a variety of substrates.

Nutritional Requirements: Moderate; can grow in nutrient poor soils, but needs some organic content to thrive.

Salt Water Tolerance: Low to moderate; may tolerate some brackish water or occasional inundation by salt water.

Salt Wind Tolerance: Moderate; grows near salt water, but is protected from direct salt spray by other vegetation.

Drought Tolerance: Low; requires moist to wet soils and is intolerant of long periods of drought.

Light Requirements: Full sun to light shade.

Flower Color: Brown inflorescence.

Flower Characteristics: Semi-showy inflorescence.

Flowering Season: Summer-fall.

Fruit: Inconspicuous achene.

Wildlife and Ecology: This is the dominant species of the Everglades marsh, especially in the Shark River Slough. Larval host plant for Palatka skipper (Euphyes pilatka) butterflies.

Horticultural Notes: Can be grown from seed.

Comments: Sawgrass is aptly named as the edges of the leaves are armed with tiny, sawlike prickles. Technically it is not a grass, but a sedge.

Copyright by: Roger L. Hammer

Copyright by: James Johnson, 2014
In habitat, Everglades National Park, Florida

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

Copyright by: Keith A. Bradley

Copyright by: Susan Trammell

Other data on Cladium jamaicense available from:

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