FNPS members from The Villages Chapter met at 9:00 am on a cool, but pleasant Monday morning to stroll around the Lake Griffin State Park. Our tour leader was the new Park Manager, Rachel Nunlist. Rachel Nunlist's husband, David, is a botanist and works at Biosphere nursery. We will be visitng Bioshpere later this year. We learned that the park was originally established as a camping and launch point for anglers, back in the day when ten pound bass were not uncommon.
The 500 acre park is home to the second largest Live Oak tree (quercus virginiana) in the state of Florida. We also saw Long Leaf Pine Trees, Red Maple, Flatwoods Plum, Sabel Palm, Saw Palmetto, Sparkleberry, Shiny Lionia, Cinnamon Fern and Resurrection Fern, Smilex Vines, Carolina Jessimine vine in full bloom. We found a couple of seedlings from the invasive camphor tree and saw a medium size Red Bay that had been killed by Laurel Wilt (transmitted by the amprosia beetle).
The entrance had been planted with all natives by Green Isle Gardens in 2015. Green Isle Gardens dontates native plants for our meeting auction. We looked at some of the plants and inquired about maintenance. The park depends on volunteers for maintenance (weeding) and they don't have anyone familiar with native plants that knows what to pull. Possibly an opportunity for a morning project for a few of our chapter members.
We left the park by 11:00 am with some additional understanding of our natural areas.