This remnant slough once connected with the Garden’s cypress dome but was isolated by development prior to acquisition of the Garden Property. The slough still contains larger remnant species, including the dominant overstory of pond apples Annona glabra, and an understory of common buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis arrowheads Sagittaria spp, and the beautiful white flowered crinum lily, Crinum americanum. Common slough canopy species, Pop ash Fraxinus americanus, and Red Maple Acer rubrum have been restored to the remnant habitat.
The Garden’s wet 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 geminate. 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.