Saturday, February 16, 2013

Fern Forest Nature Center

Our winter has been so mild this year (70's/60's at night to 70's/80's during the day) that Joe & I were able to enjoy a trip to a local county park called Fern Forest located in Coconut Creek.  It is a little gem of indigenous Florida flora & fauna surrounded by concrete jungle, lol.  But seriously it is one of just a handful of natural slough's still left in Florida which are vital to the Everglades ecosystem.  The 247 acre park is home to more than 30 species of ferns, hundreds of species of plants and a vast array of animals.  This park is so complex that it has over 10 different habitats: some of the ecosystems we saw were the dry prairie, pine flatwoods, tropical hardwood hammock, cypress & maple tree swamp, wet prairie, hardwood swamps, oak-pine-palm hammock, fresh water marsh, cypress creeks and rockland hammock.  We went on an overcast cool Saturday afternoon.  I thought there may be so many people there we wouldn't really see much wildlife but at least we would enjoy our afternoon outdoors.  Boy was I wrong...I guess everyone was sleeping in because we were only one of a few people out on the trails and saw so many animals!  So without further is a photo montage of our Fern Forest adventure!
Part of the fresh water marsh which is also part of
natural slough which moves water from the
Everglades through Coral Spring, Coconut Creek
& Pompano Beach to the intracoastal waterway then

out to the Atlantic Ocean.
Native wild lime to the left, an old cypress snag in  the middle that looks like it has fed quite
a few woodpeckers, cinnecord sapling to the

right and a native Caribbean wild coffee in the front right.
This is the base of what was a very old & very large
cypress tree.  Even dead trees provide

habitats for lots of different plant species
like ferns, epiphytes & mosses.
Banyan tree's have such an amazing sculptural
form to them but are super invasive here in Florida.  They are from India & can grow hundreds of feet high and wide.
Here in the swamp you can see sabal palms, leather ferns, alligator flag,
cypress tree's and their knee's (the nubs that rise up from the ground).
I just got "Shhhhhh'd", I was like "what?!?" LOL 
This is what I got "shhhh'd" for...a huge
pileated woodpecker! My first ever, so cool!
Lots of layers of Florida native plants in their natural setting.
Sabal palms, oak trees, wild coffee & beautyberry to name a few.
A big gopher tortoise walking in the dry prairie area.
As we got closer, we find out that it was
just finishing up a "personal moment" lol
Rouge Plant, rivina humilis, is a relative of the pokeweed.
Swamp ferns across the hammock floor
Hmmm can you tell me which one doesn't belong...
X marks the spot,a blurry image yes, but proof we saw a 
great horned the daylight none the less!
This airplant or epiphyte is almost 3ft wide & fell from the pine tree.

Strap fern ( campyloneurm phyllitidis)
Bracken fern ( pteridium aquilinum )
Swamp fern ( blechnum serrulatum )

Swamp fern ( blechnum serrulatum )

Halberd fern ( tectaria heracleifolia )
Maiden fern ( thelypteris kunthii )
Giant leather fern ( acrostichum danaeifolium )
Tuber sword fern ( nephrolepis cordifolia )
Forest floor full of ferns
Fallen cypress tree in the Cypress-Maple Swamp
Leather ferns and swamp lilies
Bright green moss on swamp maple tree
Lichen and moss on cypress tree
A view of the Cypress-Maple swamp
Lots of lichen lol
Can you tell I am fascinated by epiphytes? ;)
Resurrection ferns ( pleopeltis polypodioides ) on this fallen tree.
The infamous 9-banded armadillo.
They were foraging for food and super cute!
There were two of them & surprisingly they
were not shy but boy were they quick.
The nubby moss covered spikes coming up from the swamp
floor are the cypress tree's "knees".  They are part of the tree's root
system thought to help bring oxygen to the tree but it's not really know
the exact role they play.
Giant brake fern ( pteris triportita)
Whew, yes the slide show is over although these handful of pictures are just a small fraction of all the flora and fauna this little part of the world has to show you.  So take a few hours out of your crazy day and get yourself to one of your local parks to enjoy what it has offer.  After all that's what they are there for!

Wishing you all a most wonderful weekend and I am outta here to go enjoy my birthday weekend!

Happy Gardening and Best Wishes,



  1. What a great place the Fern Forest looks to be. Wish it was closer. Thanks for the photos of your visit.

    Have a lovely birthday weekend ~ FlowerLady

    1. Thank you Lorraine,not sure where you are in zone 10 but it is definitely worth a visit if you are ever in the area! Until la vida vicariously! Hee hee :)

      Best wishes,