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Central Florida checking in

Hello all! I'm a native Florida son of a biologist and searching for superlatives in nature is a hobby of mine.

Recently I have been systematically exploring a remarkable site in eastern Orange County Florida called the Tosohatchee Wildlife Management area. It contains an estimated 900 acres of old growth cypress-tupelo floodplain swamp, an unknown acreage of old growth hydric hammock, mesic flatwoods and several likely untouched dome swamps. Most of it is concentrated in and around the central creek, Jim Creek. There are also scattered virgin stands along the northern creek, Tosohatchee Creek, which has been logged erratically for Cypress & Red Cedar (as have several other areas in the Tosohatchee) but none by the forest leveling overhead skid method that leveled most of lowland Florida. The Tosohatchee also is little represented in the literature & research, which is odd considering its acreage of old growth rivals similar sites like Corkscrew Sanctuary.

Also not sure if Dr. David Stahle's recently kicked off Ancient Bald Cypress Consortium project is known here yet:

https://cypress.uark.edu/
by addy
Thu Jun 15, 2017 6:14 pm
 
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Re: Any large forest grown live oaks?

In the Tosohatchee WMA in Orange County Florida there are substantial tracts of hydric hammock that show little to no evidence of logging and I think likely have an undisturbed forest structure that could go back thousands of years or even as far as the beginning of the holocene. Live Oaks often dominate this habitat and I've measured a dozen or so of the larger diameter ones I've found. None I've found so far are over 5.2' DBH and they all are much more wide than tall and aren't as tall as other surrounding species. Many of them have substantial sections that near completely horizontal. This agrees well with Bartram's observations. Not that I don't still dream of finding something like the colossal Lake Griffin Oak hidden away somewhere out there.

Also, northwest of the Tosohatchee is a 5.8' DBH Live Oak noted (presumably by the state DOF when they measured it) for being unusually straight and tall:

https://www.monumentaltrees.com/en/usa/florida/lakecounty/14092_lowerwekivariverpreservestatepark/

There's a good chance this oak however grew up with its surroundings largely cleared since the area it inhabits was subjected to forest leveling overhead skid logging for cypress sometime in the early 1900s. Literature states that under ideal conditions Live Oaks can reach 4'-6' DBH in as little as 75 years, so it's quite possible this oak is rather young and grew up in very unnatural conditions. I think it likely when they grow up under heavy forest cover the spreading habit is maximized because they're far superior than most trees at searching laterally for light, while height growth is relatively weak.
by addy
Fri Jun 23, 2017 6:22 pm
 
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Re: Central Florida checking in

Good to hear,
[i] [/i]
Are there any native figs there, or are they all further south, or in different habitats? 3 large ficus species native to Florida are Ficus Americana, F. citrifolia, and F. Auria.

Auria ranges into central Florida according to USF's Institute for Systematic Botany (http://florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/), but most are further south. I've yet to run into any in Central Florida. There is a holly species, Ilex cassine, which when forced to twist and turn resembles some ficus species. I've mistaken them for ficus species on occasion. Their morphology is usually more straight though, only getting really fantastic in deep and old swamps. I also once found an individual with a gall the size of a basketball on its trunk.
by addy
Fri Jul 21, 2017 5:54 pm
 
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Re: Atlantic white cedar. Florida champion.

There's a swamp in Ocala National Forest that contains the southernmost known White Cedar stand. It's located in Juniper Prairie Wilderness Area at the headwaters of a small partially spring fed creek called Mormon Branch. It's described by Mary Byrd Davis (in Old Growth In The East: A Survey) as containing white cedars to 3' DBH and several other botanical rarities. I'm sure there are some champion contenders in there. It's little visited as access is difficult, the creek is narrow fast flowing and very obstructed and the surrounding scrub near the road (SR19) is pretty thick. I've yet to attempt approaching it from the west where the scrub looks more open and there are some old NFS roads to follow. Its the wetland just below the 'FOREST' text on the attached USGS topo detail.

If you haven't gone down the adjacent Juniper Springs run yet, its absolutely magnificent.
by addy
Fri Aug 04, 2017 5:33 pm
 
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