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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:
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:

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 (, 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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Re: IDing The patterns and colors of Old Growth on Google Ea

Michael Knight touches on this subject in a report for a project in Corkscrew Swamp, Florida, he led:

As does Jordan Burns in a 2015 paper

The later paper describes a characteristic cobbled pattern evident in the deepest old growth pure cypress.

I've spent some time looking at hi res (2' or less) aerials of cypress swamps in Florida. As the Burns paper notes its easiest to distinguish the old growth swamp areas when they are at the edge or river or marsh/prairie areas and its more difficult when the old growth is in interior areas and contains a larger number of species.

Here is the horseshoe section of Corkscrew swamp in Florida, the center is wet prairie surrounded entirely by definite old growth, and the entire area shown is essentially undisturbed, that is to say the texture gradations are natural:

Southward down the horseshoe the swamp is secondary growth, you can see the border of the old growth area at the north of the aerial, not as distinct as you would think considering the logging method in this region was the forest leveling overhead skid & rail:

From here on down all the images are at 1:3000 scale but only if you click on them - the images on the BBS crawl were resized automatically.

Here is a detail of the natural old growth edges. The structures are the Audubon Sanctuary facilities:

Here is a detail of the Corkscrew old growth interior areas:

Here is a detail of the Corkscrew secondary growth:

A little ways southwest of Corkscrew is a large strand swamp called the Fakahatchee that was completely logged out for cypress. Here are two details of its interior. The first is an area almost completely secondary growth cypress, (and non-marketable cull trees if any) the second contains a large number of other hardwoods, dense shrubs and likely pines in the higher spots:


East of Orlando in the Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area is an old growth floodplain swamp associated with the lower reaches of Jim Creek. Here's a detail of the swamp directly centered on the creek:

And at the outfall of Jim Creek:

Away from the channel the texture patterns are similar, although somewhat more varied:


A complete section of the swamp where it is surrounded on both sides by marsh gives a good range of texture variation:

All the Jim Creek aerials are entirely primary growth. This swamp appears to have been built out as a delta of sorts over the ages (extending over a mile) into the marshes. The teal is floodplain marsh and the brown is floodplain swamp, to the east is the St. john's River:

North of Jim Creek is another floodplain swamp, along Tosohatchee Creek, that has been logged, in part or entirely, by much less destructive cut and drag methods, and not very thoroughly either. It contains old growth sections throughout it in perplexing patterns. Here's a detail of its interior:

Elsewhere in the Tosohatchee Creek swamp its not clear from the aerial if there are large old growth sections. Its not clear since the cobbled texture isn't definitive and shows up in secondary growth areas. This spot may also represent a large area of non-marketable cull trees, which should have to most fantastic forms. At some point I will make it into this area and find out:

The Tosohatchee Creek swamp also appears to have been formed in part as a giant alluvial fan or delta:
by addy
Wed Nov 22, 2017 8:05 pm
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