Included here are coastal zones around the Caribbean Sea.

Halophytic Vegetation of Northern Venezuela

On the coastal alluvial plain at Chichiriviche in northern Venezuela the saline vegetation ranges from mangrove on the lower shore to deciduous forest transition zones on the landward limits but in between there is a variety of halophylic vegetation. These include flooded areas dominated by Cyperaceae, Batis maritima-Sesuvium protulacastrum zones, halophytic grassland dominated by Sporobolus virginicus, and small islands often dominated by Conocarpus erectus.

Mangrove Zone
This the lowest vegetation zone is dominated by tall mangrove vegetation mainly Avicennia germinans and Rhizophora mangle but with scattered Laguncularia racemosa.

Flooded areas dominated by Cyperaceae
These occur where fresh water accumulates during the wet season. The vegetation is dominated by species of Cyperaceae such as Eleocharis geniculala, Eleocharis nutans Fymbristylis cymosa and Fymbristylis spadicea. Some species, such as Nymphaea sp tend to be ephemeral and disappear during the dry season.

Batis maritima-Sesuvium protulacastrum zones
Zones dominated by these two succulent halophytes typically border salt-pans and flats which are often devoid of vegetation but temporarily flood after heavy rain. 

Halophytic grassland dominated by Sporobolus virginicus
These zones, typically elevated 5-10 cm above the salt-flat, are dominated by the saltmarsh grass Sporobolus virginicus. Oxycarpha suaedifolia is often intermixed with the grass together with isolated patches of Acanthocereus tetragonus and Opuntia zventiana.

Small islands often dominated by Conocarpus erectus
These are usualy in the order of 3-10 m in diameter and elevated up to 40 cm above the salt-flats. The vegetation is frequently dominated Conocarpus erectus, a species often associated with mangoves, and can reach heights of upto 2 m. A frequent associate is the columnar cactus Subpilosocereus ottonis. On other islands isolated stands of non-halophytic trees such as Capparis hastata, Maytenus karstenii and Prosopis juliflora may occur. Another occasional species is the cactus Pereskia guamacho, but the epiphyte Tillandsia flexuosa may be abundant. The floor of these islands is usually dominated by dense thickets of Bromelia humilis with scattered tufts of Sporobolus virginicus. Batis maritima-Sesuvium protulacastrum vegetation typically characterises the zones where these islands merge with the salt plains.

Deciduous woodland Transition Zones
These zones have been isolated from the main forest by erosive influences of running water during humid years, but also to some extent by human infiuence. The erosion reduces soil levels bringing it into contact with the brackish water table. The borders are characterised by Caesalpinia coriaria, Capparis hastata, Capparis odoratissima, Capparis pachaca, Erythroxylon cumanense, Jacquinia revoluta, Maytenus karenii, Prosopis juliflora and shrubs such as Croton sp and Pereskia guamacho. Occasionally there are also dense thickets of the terrestrial bromeliads Bromelia humilis and Bromelia chrysantha. Epiphytes include the bromeliads Tillandsia flexuosa and Tillandsia ecurvata and the orchids Brassovala nodosa and Schomburgkia humboldtiana.


Medina, E., Cram, W.J., Lee, H.S.J., Luttge, U., Popp, M., Smith, J.A.C. & Diaz, M. 1989. Ecophysiology of xerophytic and halophytic vegetation of a coastal alluvial plain in northern Venezuela. I. Site description and plant communities. The New phytologist, 111: 233-243.