The Garden’s pine flatwoods form transitional habitats around the scrub in the Smith Upland Preserve. As the name suggests, the canopy in the flatwoods is predominantly south Florida slash pine, Pinus elliottii var. densa. Much like the scrub, the understory is dominated by saw palmetto, Serenoa repens. The flatwoods can be differentiated from the scrub by the presence of cabbage palms Sabal palmetto, gallberry Ilex glabra, and Carolina redrootLachnanthes caroliana.
One of Florida’s most endangered ecosystems, the scrub, is a beautiful garden in its own right. The Smith Uplands Trail wends through the scrub under an overstory of south Florida slash pine Pinus elliottii var. densa, and scrub oaks Quercus geminata. The understory is dominated by saw palmetto Serenoa repens, Florida rosemary Ceratiola ericoides, and diverse collection of grasses, wildflowers, and heaths. Crusts of fragile lichen can be seen along the trail, growing on top of fine white sugar sands. Healthy scrub habitat is vital to the federally threatened Gopher tortoise. Periodic fires maintain an open canopy, allowing grasses and other essential tortoise foods to grow in abundance. Keep an eye out for one of the Garden’s gopher tortoises or their easily identifiable burrows.
West Lake and Deep Lake are man-made bodies of water originally dug in the 1940’s, then expanded in 2009 during the Garden’s development. These lakes support many species of fresh and coastal fish species, including tarpon and snook. The plants growing in littoral zones along the shores of the Garden’s lakes provide important breeding and foraging habitat for all aquatic life. The littoral zones are dominated by sand cordgrass (Spartina sp.), pink muhly grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris), American bulrush (Scirpus americanus), leather ferns (Acrostichum spp.), and spikerushes (Eleocharis spp.).