Of all of Florida’s habitats, the one that truly sings “Florida” is the palm hammock, a richly textured riot of green and fronds, of mosses and lichens, of light and shadow perfectly balanced. Enjoy it on the Taylor Creek Loop.
A giant among trees, the bald cypress is an imposing sight. Unlike its relative the pond cypress, it prefers growing along water in motion, such as rivers, streams, and sluggish swamps.
Black mangroves have shiny leaves and dark round seed cases. Their most distinguishing feature is their pnuemataphores, finger-like protrusions around the tree like slender, miniature cypress knees.
With an unusual color and shape compared to most ducks you see, the black-bellied whistling duck is surprisingly common throughout all of Florida.
The state tree of Florida, the cabbage palm (also called sabal palm) is an iconic symbol found in almost every habitat in Florida, although it is less frequently seen in upland areas.
An unusual-looking Florida raptor, the crested caracara is Mexico’s national bird. They are members of the falcon family, but their heads look very parrot-like—a red face and a thick curved bill offset their black-and-white plumage.
Large puffy lichens, such as pale greenish-gray Cladina evansii and yellowish Cladina subtenuis are lumped under the colloquial name of deer moss.
Orange County’s Pine Lily Preserve in Bithlo is a great wildflower walk in any season, since carnivorous plants are common in its bogs.
The most common turtle you’ll see basking on logs along rivers and lakes, the Florida cooter is one of Florida’s largest freshwater turtles, up to a foot long or more.
Florida rosemary (Ceratiola ericoides) is not related to the edible herb rosemary, which is in the mint family. It is one of the showier shrubs in scrub habitat due to its rounded shape and sometimes enormous size.
Especially in fall, you’ll encounter these massive spiders stringing sticky yellow webs everywhere – including right across the hiking trails.