South Florida was once covered in pines. Our native pine Pinus elliottii var. densa once blanketed the east coast, mixing with saw palmetto, Serenoa repens, coontie, Zamia integrifolia, and a stunning variety of wildflowers. Most pines grew on what is called the Miami Rock Ridge. This ridge is primarily composed of oolitic limestone varying from four to twelve feet in elevation. The Miami Rock Ridge extends from the city of Miami, south to the Deering Estate, where it curves westward towards the Everglades. Because the ridge is elevated, it was a prime area for urban development, and is now covered in houses, parking lots and businesses. Less than 2% of the original pinelands remain, rendering this habitat globally endangered.
Fairchild's Pine Rockland Exhibit
Fairchild's pineland was planted in a historically low lying area of the Garden. To recreate the superior drainage and elevation needed by pines and their companion plants, a large quantity of rock and sand fill was used.
Fairchild is dedicated to saving the pine rockland ecosystem and its multitude of plants. The Connect to Protect Network was recently launched by Fairchild with funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The network is designed to help preserve and strengthen our remaining pine rocklands, and to increase wherever possible the numbers of pine rockland plants growing in Miami-Dade County.
The Connect to Protect Network objective is to create corridors and "stepping stones" that connect isolated pine rockland remnants. These corridors, such as rights-of-way along freeways, or degraded or overgrown pine rockland parcels in agencies and institutions, will be planted with native pine rockland species. This will increase the probability that bees, butterflies and birds can find and transport seeds and pollen across developed areas that separate the fragmented pine rocklands remnants.
Create your own pine rockland in your backyard, or take a trip back in time by visiting Fairchild's young pineland to see what much of South Florida once looked like.
A pine rockland complete with saw palmetto
Pines at dusk