Dusk in Hardwood Hammock
Sailboat Bend Preserve
South Florida landscapes have a unique charm. I've lived places with more dramatic landscapes, like California and New Mexico. Hiking through nature in those places is like visiting an art gallery, but hiking through South Florida's nature is more like playing a game of "hidden pictures." The beauty is in the details. Everywhere you look there's a treat to ponder. Take this slice of tropical hardwood hammock, a type of landscape traditionally nestled within Florida's diminishing pine rockland habitat. You can see a strangler fig starting its life as an epiphyte – a battle which will grow violent in years to come. You can see tiny saplings of mighty live oak, which may or may not find this soil suitable for large hardwoods (nitrogen fixation of the sandy soil is a job for pioneer trees, not oaks). And of course, there's the myriad of palm trees, all with slightly different shades and heights. These sabal palms are incredibly slow growing. It takes ten to fifteen years until the plant even has a discernible trunk! After that, growth rate is approximately six inches per year. So while these plants may look young and fresh, they've already been shaping this scene for decades upon decades!