Scrub

I had become accustomed to the live oak hammocks, tall pines, and sable palms of the more southern Florida parks, so much so that unconsciously I had assumed these to be the dominant features of all Florida State Parks. So it was with surprise -- and not a little disappointment -- that I confronted the sparsely shaded campground. Instead of gnarled oaks festooned with Spanish moss there was scrub! The disappointment quickly turned into interest as I began to find out more about scrub.

"Scrub," I was to learn, is defined, not by the type of vegetation but by its appearance. According to a leaflet provided by the Park Service, scrub "is characterized by a dense, but often patchy, layer of woody shrubs, with little or no grassy ground cover. In between the clumped bushes are patches of bare white sand that seem incapable of supporting life." Moreover, there are different kinds of scrub: Florida rosemary scrub, oak scrub, sand pine scrub, and "treeless scrub" (found in coastal areas). There are both pines and oaks, not to mention other tree varieties, in the scrub of the Gold Head Branch campground.

This gash across the scrub (below) was the right of way for the Dowling and Burlington narrow guage railroad that transported logs, mostly pine, to market. It is also a reminder that the area once supported a thriving turpentine industry, as the "catfaces" on some of the oldest pines give mute testimony. (See a photograph of a "catface" at Lake Kissimmee State Park. )

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