The Weekend Woodsman in Florida – Part 1

As I write this, the Woodsfamily is on vacation in east central Florida. Despite it being orders of magnitude hotter than the weather we left in Finland, I’ve spent a good deal of time out of doors enjoying the near-tropical forests, beaches and rivers of the Sunshine State.

On Tuesday, I drove westward away from the Atlantic coast toward the stifling interior. I passed palm-dotted cattle and horse ranches, fern farms and citrus groves on the way to a piece of jungle-like land (well, at least it looks jungly to me after living in Finland for a while) near one of the largest lakes in Florida. Although I am lucky enough to have full access to this private land, I only had enough time to look around and snap a few pictures here and there. So no “jungle bushcraft” this time. 😉

I’m not super familiar with southern flora and fauna, so I’m hoping one of my readers can help me identify some of the plants and trees I’m not sure about. But first, a few shots of the land.

I think these are either slash pines, loblolly pines or longleaf pines. Anyone know?

A beautiful magnolia.

Is this some kind of maple? I know it’s hard to tell from the pics. The leaves look a lot like maple.

Don’t know about these, either.

How about this?

Anyone recognize this bark? The leaves were too high up to get a good shot. They were small and ovalish.

I believe these are sabal palms.

Anyone able to identify these plants?

Is this the beloved kudzoo?

A bit o’ moss.

The pictures below show what is commonly known as Spanish moss. It is actually a flowering plant, and not a moss, and is usually found growing on live oak trees, cypress trees etc.

I found a few lichens on the property as well.

Besides the plant life, I saw (and was feasted upon by) mosquitoes, flies and ticks. Silly me for not wearing insect repellent! I also saw some some pretty nasty-looking spiders, including a red, black and white one a little less than the length of my finger (almost landed head-first into its web…). After about an hour at the property, I was drenched in sweat and covered in bites, so it was time to head back.

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14 comments on “The Weekend Woodsman in Florida – Part 1

  1. Corey B says:

    Climate shock!

    I’m no expert by any means, but a few of these I may recognize….

    (http://i1184.photobucket.com/albums/z326/bmatt78/July%2031%202012/25.jpg) This looks like a tulip poplar. The leaves do resemble maples.

    (http://i1184.photobucket.com/albums/z326/bmatt78/July%2031%202012/35.jpg) I don’t think this is kuzdu. The variety we have up here is usually lobed, though not always, and grows in a three leaf cluster.

    (http://i1184.photobucket.com/albums/z326/bmatt78/July%2031%202012/37.jpg) This looks la bit like wild muscadine and (http://i1184.photobucket.com/albums/z326/bmatt78/July%2031%202012/36.jpg) looks like Virginia Creeper, though it looks like it has thorns, so likely not.

  2. Izzy. says:

    I was born and raised in East-Central Florida. Still call it home. Most of the trees you have marked are Slash Pines, Loblolly Pines, Water Oaks and Live Oaks. Those aren’t Sabal Palms. They’re Saw Palmettos. Large ground covering. Home to TONS of snakes.

    • Thanks for the replies! You live in a beautiful area, really. I love it.

      Thanks for the suggestions, too. The “small and ovalish” leaves weren’t quite as dark and small as live oak leaves (which I am familiar with), but what do I know! Maybe there is some variation with live oaks in FL? After looking at some pictures of water oak leaves online, I think you’re right about that one for sure!

      Hmmm, one of the palms is six feet high at the point where the leaves start growing at the top, and the trunk is pretty thick (MUCH thicker than the saw palms I am familiar with). The last time I saw that particular palm tree, it was a foot or two shorter, and that was just a few years ago. the other ones around it have grown from being on the ground to a few feet off it. Do saw palms grow that high and fast? The trunks didn’t seem to have that stringy red stuff that’s usually found on saw palm trunks. I will bow to your superior knowledge on the subject, however, sir. 🙂

      Next time I know I’ll be in this area, I’ll let you know in advance. It would be great to meet up. Thanks again for the plant IDs!

  3. Izzy. says:

    Also…Would the private island you are visiting be Drayton Island in Lake George? I’ve been many times. I live about 30 minutes from there.

    • You nailed it! And I didn’t even post the picture of Lake George/Drayton Island I took at the ferry! (yet)

      Actually, the private land isn’t on Drayton Island, but it is VERY close nearby, a minute or two away in G-town. It would have been even cooler if it were on Drayton Island.

      Wow, you really DO live close! It’s too bad we didn’t meet up, but to be honest I didn’t have a whole lot of time that day anyway (barely enough time to take the pictures and hike around). Next time for sure!

  4. Ron says:

    WOW!!
    It must have felt like you were on another planet!
    But I have to admit, it does look great. Mosquitos, biting flies and ticks are plentyfull here, too, but the humidity and heat over there would kill me…
    Enjoy it though!

    • Hehehe, I think it would have felt like another planet if I had not been there before. 🙂

      The weather takes some getting used to! I have to admit I’m not a hot/humid weather person. Finland suits me a bit better, I’m afraid. 🙂

  5. OZme says:

    Nice! and very tropical looking forest. I would be so much trouble starting fire because no birch bark around there…. kidding 🙂

    image 37, I also would guess wild muscadin, or something related. but I thought that type only goes up, not on ground..

    image 23, the first thing came to my mind was Walnut… but I have been away from warm climet plants for too long time to remember 🙂

    Thank you for shearing!

  6. Hmm Florida, nice memories! (Camp E. Rudder) I really liked these woods, quite interesting for central european guy, with palmetto and snakes everywhere… would love to go there again without RI behind my a.s

    • It really is a beautiful place. So you went through the “swamp” training course?

      Yes, there are palms, snakes, spiders, etc. etc. etc. there. You really have to watch your step (and your face!).

  7. […] my last post, I showed you pictures from a piece of jungly land in East-Central Florida. Here are a few shots […]

  8. […] locations (Nuuksio National Park, Pukala Recreation Area, Hanko, Scandic Woodsman’s property, Florida, New Jersey, Estonia etc.). This phase is winding down now, and most of my upcoming bushcraft, […]

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