21 December 2009

Tropical Hammock - Hugh Taylor Birch State Park - Ft. Lauderdale FL

We had an opportunity to visit a coastal tropical hammock in Ft. Lauderdale Florida this month. The location is a donated strip of land called Hugh Taylor Birch State Park - here's a link with information about visiting.

Tropical hardwood hammocks, or closed hardwood canopies, are found throughout the southern half of Florida. These rare, threatened, botanical areas exhibit plants that are mostly native to the West Indies.

Originally they were a source of medicinal plants and food for native people and those who were shipwrecked on the Florida shores.

Other terms you'll see used to describe this type of preserve, include: Coastal berm, sinkhole, shell mound, hammock forest, etc.

Over 150 shrub and tree species have been identified in Florida's hammocks, including spleenwort, wild cinnamon, wild coffee, red stopper, mahogany mistletoe, thatch palm, pigeon plum, sea grape and dozens of others. They were named for their accepted purpose so thei original uses are easy to decipher.

Check out this PDF for a complete description. The link is the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service site so it is safe to click on.

Early settlers considered the area to be a worthless swamp and for decades (1850 to 1920)they tried to drain it to make it "useful". The University of Florida's extension service site has an interesting history of that effort and its results here.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife site urges us to make outdoor memories over the holidays and this is one of the spots you can't be beat!

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