Cary State Forest
Orchids and trail tour of Florida's second oldest State Forest
Leaders: George and Faith Barbour and Jon Johnson
Start Time at Site: 10:00 AM
End Time at Site: 2:00 PM
Lunch Included? No
Handicap Access: No
Cost: $7 + $2 at honor box onsite
The tour will begin at the Cary State Forest Pavilion where there will be a short introduction about the history, forest management and flora/fauna of the area. Participants will drive their vehicles or carpool on easily traveled dirt roads to several selected sites for plant observations to include orchids and carnivorous plant species. You will also be guided by a Florida Forest Service (FFS) Senior Forester to other selected areas of the forest depending on fire, ground and weather conditions.
Cary is Florida's second oldest forest -- established in 1939 -- and is managed by the Florida Forest Service. Cary is comprised of 13,385 acres over several diverse tracts west of Jacksonville. Cary protects the watershed of portions of the St. Johns River, St. Mary's River and Nassau River and is important to the recharge of the aquifer. Cary has 11 different ecosystems and is known for its longleaf pines, mature flatwoods, sandhill and basin marsh habitats. The forest is managed for timber production, wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation and environmental restoration. The forest offers hiking, horseback riding, RV and primitive camping, plant and wildlife viewing, environmental education and hunting.
In addition to its outstanding selection of orchids, plants and animal species that are listed as endangered, threatened or of special concern include night-flowering wild petunia, purpledisk honeycomb head, gopher tortoise, gopher frog, Sherman's fox squirrel, wood stork and swallow-tailed kite. Prescribed burning is one of the most effective tools used in managing Cary which helps maintain native plant and animal species and helps prevent uncontrollable, devastating wildfires.
Purpledisk Honeycombhead (Balduina atropurpurea) © Grace Howell