Love in the Florida Forest
Still not quite able to tackle the bigger hikes, we ventured to lovely Fern Forest, a magnificent conservation site and wildlife refuge located in Broward County. Encompassing 247 acres, researchers have characterized the site as “the last remaining stronghold of ferns in southeastern Florida.” This beautiful and diverse natural area represents the last remnant of the historical Cypress Creek floodway. Today, Fern Forest remains a significant refuge for wildlife in this highly urbanized region, and hosts many educational activities, conservation events, and nature programs. The park encompasses ten plant communities, including a tropical hardwood hammock, an open prairie, and a cypress-maple swamp. Visitors can investigate three main trails: The Cypress Creek Trail (a wonderful boardwalk); the Prairie Overlook Trail, which includes a 20-foot-tall observation platform; and the Maple Walk, winding through an often soggy red maple swamp.
During our weekend visit we hit the Prairie Overlook Trail and the expansive boardwalk; the butterflies were especially active after an unexpected Saturday monsoon. As always, I try to catch the swallowtails in action, but fail miserably and land in the oversized banana spiderwebs. But I did manage to snap a private moment between mating Viceroy Butterflies (Limenitis archippus) — cue the appropriate music; I was humming it for them at the time.
Deep in the darkness of the Prairie Overlook Trail, my guy spotted this sublime palm…a love tree! I’m only sorry I didn’t find it first; it was completely tucked away in a riot of Florida growth.