A group of 15 Lake Beautyberry and Passionflower members spent a lovely Father’s Day morning hiking at Flat Island Preserve, a Lake County Water Authority property just south of Leesburg. Patricia Burgos, an LCWA biologist and FNPS member, led the hike and provided a wealth of information about the history and management of the property and the plants the group encountered.
The first part of the hike was along a gently upsloping shaded trail. Flat Island is surrounded by the Okahumpka Marsh, which feeds a number of lakes and the aquifer, but the trail is inland through upland hardwood hammocks. With tall overstory trees the trail was well shaded, and there were lots of interesting understory plants including beautyberry, wild coffee, and blooming ironweed.
The highlight of the trip was seeing the wildflower meadow/sandhill restoration area where plants rescued by FNPS volunteers have been relocated in a burned and cleared pasture area. Among the dozens of relocated plants are threatened, endemic Polygala lewtonii, scrub buckwheat, liatris, sky-blue lupine, sandhill milkweed, partridge pea, penstemon, greeneyes, and vibrant orange-blossomed standing cypress (in foreground of picture).