Scrub Discovery Nature Trail
Home Trail Map Introduction Saw Palmetto Scrub Oaks Scrub and Saw Palmetos Blueberries and Fetterbush Fallen Sand Pine Prickly Pear Cactus Small Clearing Sand Pines Pawpaw South Florida Slash Pine Gopher Apple Bridge and Ditch Nest Box Lichens and Contrasting Pines Altered Drainage Turkey Oak Scrub Hickory Silk Bay Open Scrubby Flatwoods and Rusty Lyonia Sugar Sand Weather Station

1
Saw Palmetto

Saw Palmettos
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Note the saw-like teeth along the petiole (leaf stem). Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens) is a palm that grows from prostrate trunks in open, sunny sites and may form erect trunks in moist shady sites. Like many of the plant species of this region, Saw Palmetto may form large spreading patches from clonal (underground vegetative) offshoots of a single original plant.

2
Scrub Oaks

Chapman Oak
Quercus chapmanii
Chapman Oak
art by M Deyrup




Myrtle Oak
Quercus myrtifolia
Myrtle Oak
art by M Deyrup


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Four species of evergreen, shrubby oaks occur together at this site. Look for labels on plants near the Marker. Myrtle Oak (Quercus myrtifolia) has small, shiny leaves that are green and smooth on both sides. Sand Live Oak (Q. geminata) has thick leaves with rolled edges. The leaves are dark green, somewhat corrugated on top, and white on the bottom. Chapman's Oak (Q. chapmanii) has leaves that are green on both sides, like Myrtle Oak, but the leaves are more papery and the margins are wavy. Inopina Oak (Q. inopina) (sometimes called Archbold Oak because it was discovered to be a distinct species through work done at Archbold) has olive green leaves that tend to be a bit larger than the Myrtle Oak leaves and which tend to curl. Many of its leaves are somewhat dusty or covered with loose fuzz on the bottom. Inopina Oak occurs primarily on the Lake Wales Ridge and in nearby scrubs. The other three scrub oaks are more widespread in Florida. The clonal habit (the plants are connected underground by a common stem and are genetically identical) of the oaks appears to be an adaptation to frequent fires, seasonal drought, and scarce nutrients. The large pines are South Florida Slash Pines (Pinus elliottil var. densa).

Sand Live Oak
Quercus geminata
Sand Live Oak
art by M Deyrup


Inopina Oak
Quercus inopina
Inopina Oak
art by M Deyrup

Woodpeckers


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If you look up and around, you will notice several old, bleached dead trees or snags. If you look closely, you may see a woodpecker cavity used for roosting or nesting. In this area you might see one of several species of woodpeckers: Downy, Pileated, Red-headed, or Red-bellied Woodpeckers. With the advent of frequent prescribed bums and occasional wild fires, even Hairy Woodpeckers have nested here recently. In Florida, this species is mostly confined to recently burned pinelands, and is now becoming scarce because of widespread fire suppression.

3
Scrub and Saw Palmettos

Scrub and Saw Palmetto
Above:Sabal etonia
Scrub Palmetto
Below:Serenoa repens
Saw Palmetto
art © Turid Forsyth
Scrub Palmetto leaves and fibers
click to enlarge
Scrub Palmetto (Sabal etonia) and Saw Palmetto grow together on the south side of the trail. Scrub Palmetto (behind the marker) has smooth leaf petioles, and the petiole continues up into the leaf blade ending in a point. Many Scrub Palmetto leaves have fibers on the edges of the leaf blades. (These fibers are used by Florida Scrub-Jays to line their nests.) Scrub Palmetto, which never develops an erect trunk, is found only in scrub areas, chiefly on the Lake Wales Ridge of central Florida. Saw Palmetto (to the right of the Marker) has toothed petioles, and the petiole ends usually with a little flap of tissue, at the blade of the

click to enlarge
leaf. Saw Palmetto has a wide distribution and is found throughout Florida and on the adjacent southern coastal plain. Its black berries are an important food source for the Black Bears (Ursus americanus) that are found on the Station. Tar-flower (Befaria racemosa), a shrub with conspicuous, white sticky flowers during the summer months, occurs on the left side of the trail (see also Marker 18).

4
Blueberries and Fetterbush

Tar-flower
Befaria racemosa
Tar-flower
art by M Deyrup


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Two very similar species of Low-bush Blueberries (Vaccinium darrowii and V. myrsinites) grow together here on the right side of the trail.

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Both are clonal, fire-adapted plants. The seeds are dispersed by birds and small mammals. The small berries are edible and along with acorns, still attract the occasional Black Bear onto Archbold property. On the

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left side of the trail is a nice clump of Fetterbush or Shiny Lyonia (Lyonia lucida). This species is kin to the blueberries and Tar-flower. It is characterized by shiny green leaves that are thick and which have an even thicker rim around the edge of the leaf blade.

Shiny Lyonia
Lyonia lucida
Shiny Lyonia
art by M Deyrup

5
Fallen Sand Pine


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This Sand Pine (Pinus clausa) was blown down by a tornado on Christmas Eve, 1986. Hundreds of trees, primarily Sand Pines, were blown down during that storm. Disturbance by both wind and fire allows rejuvenation of many scrub species. If you look closely at the log you can see fungus growth and holes made by wood boring insects. Birds and some mammals use the tangled limbs as refuges. Sand Pines rarely live more than about 50 years before being either burned or blown down.

6
Prickly Pear Cactus


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click to enlarge
This cactus (Opuntia compressa) occurs in most open habitats on the Lake Wales Ridge. Its bright yellow flowers appear in April. Young cactus pads are eaten by Gopher Tortoises; older pads are often spotted with white furry-looking blobs, which are cochineal scale insects. These insects produce a bright red pigment in their bodies, which was used as a dye by the Indians of Mexico and South America before the arrival of the Spaniards. This dye then became a major item of international commerce. Cochineal dye is still occasionally used today but it has been largely replaced by aniline dyes. The presence of cactus reminds us the scrub community is very desert-like.

7
Small Clearing


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This small clearing is covered with ground lichens and Spike Moss. The delicate, puffy plants resembling dried sponges are lichens. Spike Moss (Selaginella arenicola), which is much less abundant, is a small, stiff, gray-green, branched plant about the same size as a lichen. Both these drought-adapted plants colonize bare sand areas in Florida Scrub. Lichens are plants with symbiotic associations between fungi and algae. They obtain most of their moisture from the air. The algae photosynthesize to provide carbohydrates, and the fungal hyphae absorb nutrients. Spike Moss is a primitive green plant with an extensive system of very fine roots.

Gopher Tortoise burrow
Gopherus polyphemus
Gopher Tortoise burrow
art by M Deyrup


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Gopher Tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus) are champion diggers and some burrows stretch 30 ft. long and 10 ft. deep. Several Gopher Tortoise burrows can be seen by following short side trails.

Other animals share these same burrows for relief from extreme hot or cold temperatures. A deep burrow also provides secure escape from fires and predators. Gopher Frogs (Rana capito aesopus) spend the major portion of their lives in Gopher Tortoise burrows, coming out only to feed and to find a seasonal pond for breeding during the late summer. Of course, other animals dig burrows as well. Keep a lookout for a small, perfectly round hole in the white sand. This is the burrow of the ghostly white Scrub Wolf Spider (Geolycosa xera archboldi). This spider is active in the evening, when it stalks its prey on the surface of the sand.

8
Sand Pines


click to enlarge


click to enlarge
Sand Pines of several sizes are growing along the opposite side of the trail from the marker. Sand Pine has short, twisted needles and fine twigs. The cones remain on the tree for many years. Many of the cones remain closed until heated by fire. After a fire, the cones open and their seeds fall onto newly bare soil and sprout in great numbers. Throughout the year, pine seeds are an important food source for small mammals. Look at the base of the tree to find well-chewed pine cones, the work of squirrels and mice.


Pinus clausa
Sand Pine
art by M Deyrup

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