Cuba has a flora of striking richness, with the total number of native flowering species estimated at nearly 6,000. The mountainous areas are covered by tropical forest, but Cuba is essentially a palm-studded grassland. The royal palm, reaching heights of 15 to 23 m (50–75 ft), is the national tree. Pines like those in the southeastern US grow on the slopes of the Sierra de los Órganos and on the Isla de Juventud (Isle of Youth). The lower coastal areas, especially in the south, have mangrove swamps. There is a small area around Guantánamo Bay where desert plants grow.
Only small animals inhabit Cuba. These include tropical bats, rodents, birds, and many species of reptiles and insects.