Trees: Their House, Your House.
The southern cedar, representative tree of the barrier islands along the Gulf. We saw a lot of these trees. Initially, this was the reason these islands were settled--the virgin cedar forests were cut and the ecosystem gutted, along with employment. When the timber companies finished removing the cedar forests, they abandoned the people they'd previously employed.
On my trips, even though my knowledge of trees is highly limited, I'm always on the lookout for very large or unusual trees and plants. I found a few such flora on this latest trip. I did manage to locate a couple of pretty big darned cypress trees. One of them was between the headsprings at Manatee Springs and the inlet of the run along the Suwaneee River. This was the first day we arrived at the park before the flood waters reached the area and river current became too fierce and too filled with flood debris to make canoeing a safe bet.
I talked Carole into letting me beach the canoe in the swamp so that I could pick my way to the base of the big cypress where she was able to take my photo. I'm not sure, but I suspect this particular cypress was hollow, since all of the other cypress trees in the area were nondescript and the only reason this one wouldn't have been felled would be that it was hollow and the timber company allowed it to stand.
A couple of days later I found another large cypress inside the Fannings Spring State Park. It had been surrounded by water from the rising river, so I wasn't able to walk right down to it as I could have if I'd found it earlier. However, I climbed over the boardwalk trail (much to Carole's dismay) and she was able to take a good shot of me before the big cypress.
On another day we took a hike through the San Felasco Hammock State Park and that was a rewarding trip. But just in the fact that we were able to take a 2.5 mile hike through a mature hardwood forest. The park claims to have some champion caliber trees, but I didn't see anything that looked like more than your average second growth hardwood groves. Still, it was a good day to be out and about with cool temperatures and a nice breeze. The bugs were kept to a minimum. Later we visited Cedar Key State Park and I saw a Sand pine, a species I'd never encountered.
A Sand pine. These live only in limited areas along the Gulf coast of Florida and a tiny bit of coastal Alabama. They require sandy, well-drained soils. They're a very rare tree.