Take a hike this November to see amazing wildflowers on Florida’s Adventure Coast
The signs of Fall in Florida come every September, but not in the ways one might expect. From Halloween costumes and pumpkin spiced lattes to decorations with the all-familiar colors of Fall foliage, the season is apparent until one steps outside – back into Florida!
And though the casual observer may see no changes in Florida this season, those who are ready to explore outdoors and take advantage of the [slightly] cooler temps will find a natural beauty like no other – Florida’s “second Spring” arrives every Fall, and it is a beautiful sight like no other!
There are wildflowers species blooming at almost every time of the year in Florida, thanks to our warm weather. Come September, ample summer rains coupled with ongoing warm temperatures lead to a suitable blooming season in Florida’s forests and wildlands.
This can especially be seen in Sandhill habitat, a pineland ecosystem with sandy soils and gentle rolling hills. One example of Sandhill on Florida’s Adventure Coast is the Croom tract of the Withlacoochee State Forest, where stately longleaf pines provide dappled shade over a mostly sunny meadow of native grasses and wildflowers.
This is a fire-dependent ecosystem, which leads to carefully controlled prescribed fires being used to maintain the habitat. The lightning capital of the hemisphere, Florida’s sandhill habitat was shaped by thousands of years of historic lightning-ignited fires. Many native Florida species have adapted to survive fire, and many sandhill plants require periodic burning for their species survival. Seeds and roots can persist after fire and native grasses and wildflowers quickly regrow during summer’s rainy season.
Thanks to prescribed fire management, these conservation lands have some of the best viewing for wildflowers beginning late September through November. Of the many parks and preserves on Florida’s Adventure Coast, we recommend visiting the Croom Tract of the Withlacoochee State Forest, the trails at the Chinsegut Conservation Center, or the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area for their Sandhill habitat and the best chance of seeing blooms!
Tip: Before you go, see what wildflowers are currently in bloom at https://flawildflowers.org/whats-in-bloom/
Colleen Werner has been a Withlacoochee State Forest Biologist since 2001, having earned her B.S. in Environmental Botany from the University of South Florida. She enjoys exploring by kayak and taking long hikes with her friendly pet, Fiona.