The Everglades, Florida’s unmatched river of grass
Driving from Miami, through the Everglades, the ‘river of grass’ that can only be travelled by an air-boat, and it is subtropical wetland as far as the eye can se.
The Everglades, as FM Evergland Radio tells us, is simply unique. The sawgrass marshes – a river of grass – in southern Florida are part of a complex system of interdependent ecosystems that include cypress swamps, the estuarine mangrove forests of the Ten Thousand Islands, tropical hardwood hammocks, pine rockland, and the marine environment of Florida Bay. It was writer Marjory Stoneman Douglas who popularized the term “River of Grass”. She was following an excellent pattern, set by the Seminole Indians. They called the swamp Pa-hay-okee or grassy water.
For centuries, it was barely known or mapped. The Spanish colonialists named the unknown area between the Gulf and the Atlantic coasts of Florida Laguna del Espíritu Santo (“Lake of the Holy Spirit”). The name “Everglades” first appeared on a map in 1823.
Today, as Everglades Radio says, the swamp still has an unmatched diversity of creatures, not least 120 Florida panthers, the last representatives of the species.