Photo Fiona Sunquist ©
Lignumvitae Key State Botanical Area
Tel: (305) 664-2540
If you would like to experience pristine tropical hardwood hammock- the forest that was once common on most of the upper Keys - visit Lignumvitae Key. Because it is only accessible by boat, not many people make the trip. But this is original tropical Florida, well worth a visit. The island’s name comes from a small, gnarled looking tree, the blue-flowered Lignum vitae, which is native to Central America and the Bahamas.
The island is a living botanical example of Florida’s Caribbean connections; you can see strangler fig, mastic, poisonwood, pigeon plum, mahogany, Jamaican dog-wood, gumbo limbo and many other tropical tree and shrub species. It is also a good place to see one of North America’s most attractive and rarest butterflies - the Florida Purplewing. The island also supports a population of brightly colored tree snails (Liguus fasciatus). Birders will enjoy seeing tropical hardwood hammock specialties such as white-crowned pigeons and mangrove cuckoos.
Lignumvitae Key is accessible only by boat from Indian Key Fill via a ferry operated by the official concessionaire, “Robbie's Marina”. For reservations and fees, call (305) 664-9814. Tour boat departs 1/2-hour before listed tour times. The island is closed Tuesday and Wednesday. This may not be the best summer destination because of the mosquitoes. During summer tours of Lignumvitae, tour leaders wear full netting to protect themselves.
Visitors can also rent powerboats, kayaks and canoes from local marinas. At “Robbie's Marina” you can feed wild tarpon from the dock or if you feel energetic, a kayak or a canoe can offer a spectacular view of a variety of ocean wildlife from fish and dolphins to sharks and rays.
More information on their web site
Lignumvitae State Park web site
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