The Carolina Sea Lavender (Limonium carolinianum) resides on the floor of the Preserve’s highly saline Black Mangrove Forest. The Sea Lavender is a herbaceous perennial that grows from a rhizome. A cluster of 2 to 4 inch long basal leaves form the base of the plant. Nearly leafless stems, with the thickness of perhaps a monofilament line, extend upward reaching a height of about two feet. At the tip of each branch a row of very tiny flowers can be found. Each flower has five lobes and is of a pale lavender color. Five stamens with black tipped anthers protrude from the flower’s center. The diameter of the flower is about 1/8 of an inch if it is that much. In the Preserve the flower blooms from late fall to early winter. It is a difficult plant to find because there are not very many specimens present and its tiny flowers are hard to spot. In the Preserve it can be found alongside the board walk that goes out to the pavilion on the back bay and that is where I took this photo.
Sea Lavender shares the Forest’s floor with a number of other plant species including the Sea Ox-eye Daisy which was written about in an earlier article. These species are generally referred to as halophytes. Halophytes are plants that have developed different adaptations that permit survival in a highly saline environment. Sea Lavender thrives in acidic and highly saline sandy soils and is found in the salt marshes and coastal strands of Florida’s coastal counties.