Places to Visit

Enjoy Florida Native Plants

Near The Villages | Butterfly Gardens | Statewide | Natural Areas

Lake Griffin State Park

3089 US-441, Fruitland Park, FL 34731

The Villages Chapter of The Florida Native Plant Society has adopted the entrance area to Lake Griffin State Park. The entrance contains all native plants donated by Marc Godts of Green Isle Nursery. Steve Turnipseed is updating the design and our chapter is handling the maintenance.

The park is home to a mammoth, centuries-old oak tree as well as many other plant and animal species, including some that are threatened and endangered. In fact, this centuries-old tree, located in the southeastern corner of the park is the 2nd largest Live Oak tree in the State of Florida and is estimated to be 300 – 500 years old. This magnificent tree has been a local landmark for decades, is a must-see while visiting the park, and can be found nearby at the end of the nature trail.

The park encompasses 620 acres and provides visitor access to Lake Griffin through the Dead River Marsh. At 9,400 acres, Lake Griffin is the 8th largest lake in the State of Florida and is one of nine lakes in the Harris Chain of Lakes. Anglers will find plenty of largemouth bass, bluegill, speckled perch, and catfish. Visitors can observe the park's wildlife while picnicking or strolling along the half-mile nature trail. Our serene campground beckons travelers to spend the night or an entire vacation here. The Villages FNPS Project April 2016

Google Map Directions
Florida State Parks - Lake Griffin

Discovery Gardens

 Lake County Agriculture Center, 1951 Woodlea Road, Tavares, Florida 32778-4262

Lake County's Discovery Gardens are an educational resource developed to support programs in horticulture, gardening, landscape design, and natural resource management.

The Discovery Gardens has about 20 garden areas with several made up of native plants. These include a habitat garden installed by a native plant nursery, a wetland garden, an upland garden, a native shade garden, a native demonstration garden maintained by the Lake/beautyberry chapter of FNPS, and many other native plants in the other garden.

The Horticultural Learning Center and Discovery Gardens are open 9-4 Mon-Fri. Also, open the first Sat. 9-4 with a program at 10:00 am. May arrange tours other times by appointment. 

The Discovery Gardens will now be open the second Saturday of each month from 9:00 am - 4:00 pm.
Normal hours for the Discovery Garden are Monday - Friday 9:00 am - 4:00 pm.

Google Map Directions

P.E.A.R. Park Nature Center & Conservation Area

4800 University Ave., Leesburg, FL 34748
Open: 6:30 a.m. to dusk

Bordered by the Palatlakaha River on the North and West this area holds a vast amount of wildlife and plants for the avid birder or naturalist to discover. 

This “Passive” recreation area has several miles of trails to explore, a “Wildlife Watchpost” with a green roof overlooking an ephemeral wetland, both a xeric with pavilion and a butterfly demonstration garden, an observation pavilion, a nature center with a geology lab, Bluebird Box Trail, 50 acres of Scrub Jay restoration, and five acres of meadow restoration.

The garden provides demonstrations of gardening in xeric sites, gardening for birds (bird foods), and butterflies. There are mulched paths through these gardens and most of the plants are labeled. The volunteers have taken on an even larger project, restoring the surrounding former orange grove to sandhill and scrub. You can explore this area and watch it mature over time.

Note that the address is not at the demonstration garden. The point on the map is centered on the pavilion in the center of the garden.

Google Map Directions

The Villages Preserves

Butterfly Gardens

The Villages, FL

The Villages Butterfly Club and the Lady Lake Seventh Day Adventist Church have created a fantastic Butterfly Garden. It is open to the public and you can visit any time. Video and background about the development of the Fred Funk Butterfly Garden.

Address: 231 Lake Griffin Rd, Lady Lake, FL 32159
Phone:(352) 753-5996

Gainesville, FL

Butterflies in Florida

This article talks about Florida's Butterflies and lists a number of state parks where you can see butterflies. She includes some very detailed photographs which could help you improve the identification of a particular butterfly.

Links are to Google Map Directions. Opportunities in North Central Florida:

Big Shoals State Park in White Springs

Big Talbot Island State Park in Jacksonville (approximately a 3-hour drive)

Crystal River Preserve State Park in Crystal River (approximately a one-hour drive)

Fort Cooper State Park in Inverness  (approximately a half-hour drive)

Ichetucknee Springs State Park in Fort White (almost a two-hour drive)

Little Talbot Island State Park in Jacksonville (approximately a 3-hour drive, camping)

Manatee Springs State Park in Chiefland (approximately a one-and-a-half-hour drive)

Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway, spanning 110 miles from the Gulf of Mexico to the St. Johns River (3/4 of an hour drive)

Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park in Keystone Heights

O’Leno State Park in High Springs

Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park just south of Gainesville

Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve State Park in Jacksonville

Rainbow Springs State Park in Dunnellon

San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park in Alachua

Suwannee River State Park in Live Oak

Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park in Cedar Key

Florida Museum of Natural History
University of Florida Cultural Plaza
3215 Hull Road
Gainesville, FL 32611-2710
N29o 38' 9.5" W82o 22' 10.9"

Butterfly Rainforest exhibit admission is $10.50 for adults ($9 Fla. residents) and $6 for ages 3-17. Admission is free for Museum members and UF students with a valid Gator 1 card. Some vendors may charge for their services.

Coconut Creek, FL 

Butterfly World
3600 W. Sample Rd.
Coconut Creek, FL 33073

Key West, FL

Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory
1316 Duval St, Key West, FL 33040
Phone: (305) 296-2988

State Wide Locations

Gardens with Good Native Plant Displays

from Florida Native Plant Society 

Map, information, and links to public areas where Florida native plants are present, clearly identified, and in enough number and prominence to make it worthwhile visiting to learn about natives.

The Disney Wilderness Preserve

Mitigation area for the expansion of Disney World, Orlando

"Today, The Nature Conservancy’s 11,500-acre Disney Wilderness Preserve near Kissimmee stands as a testament not only to Disney’s words, but to the power of cooperation, perseverance and innovative thinking. Perhaps most significantly, the preserve has become a national model for sustainable development and state-of-the-art conservation management." 

Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park

This 54,000 acre preserve protects the largest remaining stretch of Florida dry prairie, home to an array of endangered plants and animals. While driving the five-mile-long road into the preserve, visitors can enjoy sweeping vistas of grasslands reminiscent of the Great Plains of the Midwest.

Archbold Biological Station

The Archbold Biological Station, lying within the headwaters of the Everglades in south-central Florida, is one of the most renowned in the world. Archbold Biological Station (5,193 acres) and the Archbold Reserve (3,648 acres) together comprise a 8,840-acre globally-significant preserve, located in the Florida scrub, one of the most distinctive natural habitats in the United States.

Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway

Free the Ocklawaha River

Gardens with Good Native Plant Displays

Statewide list with map from Florida Native Plant Society


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