Uruguay is primarily a grass-growing land, with vegetation that is essentially a continuation of the Argentine pampas. Forest areas are relatively small. The most useful hardwoods are algarobo, guayabo, quebracho, and urunday; other hardwoods include arazá, coronilla, espinillo, lapacho, lignum vitae, and nandubay. The acacia, alder, aloe, eucalyptus (imported from Australia), ombú, poplar, and willow are common softwoods. Palms are indigenous to the valleys. Rosemary, myrtle, scarlet-flowered ceibo, and mimosa are common. Most of the valleys are covered with aromatic shrubs while the rolling hills are blanketed with white and scarlet verbena.
Large animals have virtually disappeared from the eastern regions. The carpincho (water hog), fox, deer, nutria, otter, and small armadillo roam the northern foothills. On the pampas are the hornero (ovenbird), quail, partridge, and crow. The avestruz (a small ostrich similar to the Argentine rhea), swan, and royal duck are found at lagoons. Fish include pompano, salmon, and corvina. The principal reptiles are cross vipers and tortoises. Seals are found on Lobos Island, near Punta del Este.