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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.

Plant Map Map of select IRC data from peninsular Florida.

 Map of suggested ZIP codes from South Florida north to southern Brevard, Osceola, Polk, and Pasco counties.

 Map of ZIP codes with habitat recommendations from the Monroe County Keys north to Martin and Charlotte counties.

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.

References: Nelson 2003

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: Jay Horn via iNaturalist

Copyright by: Jay Horn via iNaturalist

Copyright by: Keith A. Bradley

Copyright by: Susan Trammell

Other data on Cladium jamaicense available from:

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