Habitat & Wildlife

Kiawah Island is known for its natural beauty and abundant wildlife. Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and salt marshes, Kiawah has a mixture of lush maritime forests, brackish water ponds, expansive salt marshes and picturesque dunes.  In all there are 15 different habitat types on Kiawah Island supporting an astonishing 20 species of mammals, over 250 species of resident and migratory birds, 40 species of reptiles and thousands of invertebrates.  From the maritime forest to the beach, animals thrive in the rich natural environment of Kiawah Island. 

A tremendous variety of flora and fauna present on this pristine barrier island. During your stay on Kiawah Island we invite you visit our Naturally Kiawah Demonstration Garden located in Night Heron Park.  Here you will see an example of landscaping for wildlife habitat.  Learn about some of the plants displayed in the garden by clicking the link below.

Naturally Kiawah Demonstration Garden Partial Plant List

We also encourage you to visit our Maritime Forest Reserve and Nature Trail located at 133 Conifer Lane.  This trail displays a prime example of Kiawah’s luch maritime forest and native plants. 

As you walk along Kiawah’s pristine beach you can see the variety of dunes plants.  Learn more about them by clicking the link below.

Dunes Plants of Kiawah Island

The Grow Native initiative is a community-wide effort led by the Town of Kiawah Island to increase the use of native plants in landscaping projects across the Island with an overall goal of improving wildlife habitat. A part of the initiative, the Town has organized and published the Grow Native plant database, a searchable online database of native trees, shrubs, perennials, vines, ferns, and grasses. The Grow Native plant database provides detailed information on growing conditions, size, flowering information, salt tolerance, deer resistance, and the wildlife value for each plant. The database was designed to help promote the use of native plants on Kiawah Island and serve as a resource for residents, landscapers, landscape architects, landscape designers, and other entities There are currently 196 plants in the database, but the list will be expanded over time. Learn more and search the Grow Native database by clicking the link below.

Grow Native Kiawah​

For more information on Kiawah Island’s flora, fauna or habitats, please contact the Kiawah Conservancy’s Sr. Ecological Health and Conservation Coordinator, Lee Bundrick, at lee@kiawahconservancy.org or 843-768-2029.

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