ecosystems of Vizcaya

Florida is the only place where the rich & tropical Rockland hammock is found. This ecosystem is compromised of broad forests with a limestone substrate as the foundation. It is the largest remaining portion of the Brickell Hammock. Over 120 species of  trees and shrubs make up the diverse canopy. One of those unique lifeforms being the Redberry Stopper. When enjoying Vizcaya’s nature trail you will hear and see many of it’s residents of nature!

Mangroves are shrubs or trees that grow in coastal intertidal zones with little to no oxygen. There are over 80 species of these plants, 3 of which are found in Florida. Some secrete excess salt through their leaves, while others block absorption of salt at their roots.  These “stilts of nature” cannot withstand freezing temperatures and only grow in tropical climates. The magnificent dancing roots act as a form of protection for the shoreline against harsh waves and shelter small sea-life against the threat of predators. Mangroves are also a nesting area for coastal birds such as pelicans.

“The Bay” has played an important role in Vizcaya’s story since the property’s very conception. It is in this body of water in which one of the museum’s most iconic features, ‘The Barge’ rests. The lagoon is approximately 35 miles long and up to 8 miles wide, with a surface area of 221 square miles. Biscayne Bay houses sea-grass meadows which are known as the “gardens of the sea”. These hidden gardens are actually one of the most productive ecosystems in the world — providing shelter and sustenance to fish, marine mammals and birds.

This ecosystem is being restored as a callback to Vizcaya’s past! Pine Rocklands are an endangered ecosystem and the museum is utilizing the Village restoration project as an opportunity to help assist in it’s fight for survival. Pine Rocklands exhibit a unique and diverse plant community. A signature of this ecosystem is the South Florida slash pine and it’s layer of many shrubs and palms.

Early photo of the Entrance Cascade, surrounded by the native forest or rockland hammock that still stands today. Photo circa 1918.