Maybe we can at least catalog most of them before they are gone

Jack patrols 120th Forest Road at Shady Grove Preserve
Jack patrols 120th Forest Road at Shady Grove Preserve, Ocala Florida, USA

In 2010, we found a very old oak tree deep in the hardwood forest at Shady Grove.  It is draped around the edge of an ancient hog wallow in the middle of a palmetto grove.  It looks like a white oak, but has unusual smooth bark and sharp prongs on its leaves like a red oak.  After lots of research we found that it is most likely an Overland Oak.

Once we knew what we were looking for, we discovered that this very old tree has children all around her, many of them also of good age.

The tree books say that Overland Oak is native to (and only exists in) a small area in California.  This Oak is probably 300+ years old, and has undoubtedly been in Florida for all of those years; an entire continent separating it from its human ordained home.

While  the 1600 – 1700s were a time of heavy colonization, Florida’s inland jungles and mosquito swarms were no part of that activity.  And, while its possible that the native peoples planted this tree at Shady Grove, it is equally possible that the tree is simply a native.

The species list we have accumulated in the past 10 years at Shady Grove Preserve is ever growing, and contains many plants, animals, insects, and lizards that are considered “endangered”, or thought to be no more.  And, what about all the species that are simply not listed anywhere?

Well, enter 2012 on a hopeful note.  A  new ruling has just come into effect January 1, 2012:  

Classifying plants, algae and fungi can now be done in English and online.  

…”Something needs to streamline the process of naming, though, he (Brian Schrire of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in England) says. Botanists are probably only about halfway through describing the plants on Earth, with roughly 200,000 species described. Yet only about 2,000 names get published a year at the current pace.”…

See the entire article at

In the last 150 years we have cut down and bulldozed most of the forests in our country (and indeed the world) in the name of jobs, progress and private property rights.   We have destroyed not only the trees, but the entire ecosystem that they support.  Clearly, we didn’t even know what was in them before we wasted them.

All through my lifetime, the National Forestry Service promised that they were replanting the forests that they cut down.  Well, you can’t grow a 200 year old tree in a 20 year plan.  And you can’t re-grow a forest if there isn’t enough water.  With global warming and all the new drought areas, forests are not likely to be coming back.  Our existing established woodlands are invaluable, and they need to be nurtured and  protected.

We find ‘new’ species each year at Shady Grove Preserve.  But due to the difficulty of verifying, and recording, we haven’t been able to do anything with this information, except publish these little blogs.  Now perhaps this will change.

I for one am glad that the price of diesel is going up and up.  Perhaps it will slow the bulldozers down and down.


  1. Courage, Marnie!! You are indeed doing Work of the Angels in protecting, publicizing and (at least) listing wonder species of all kinds at Shady Grove. Your headline is soooo reminiscent of pleas to protect the rainforests — “nature’s medicine cabinet” — from drilling, ranching and clear-cutting . . . before we even know which biologicals are cancer cures, natural healers, etc.

    Your sense of hope at the start of 2012 is entirely justified — the Endangered Species Act was re-authorized (protecting mostly bellweather “cute” species). But given that the drill-baby-drill and privatizatize-everything lunatics have tried to kill ESA for decades, IT’S STILL A WIN!!

    InRe: the Woods comment above. Sorry I can’t help with cave biota sources. But I did work in nuclear energy / utilities for years. The only thing that kills nuclear construction madness is money-money-money. The plants cost too much to build, to operate and even to fake the safety backup requirements (We’re ALL downwind of Fukushima.). Plus, no matter what they spew, they STILL don’t have the waste storage issue resolved. I’d suggest attacking the absurd economics of those proposed Levy County nuclear units . . . and, for added roadblocks, load in any environmental destruction arguments you can. Hey, a tiny snail darter fish stopped the fast-breeder reactor in Tennessee! Surely there’s a protected species in that watershed system that can stop a couple of nukes. Check out Union of Concerned Scientists (I think it’s a DOT-ORG). UCS has best scientific data on stopping nukes.

  2. Marnie–great stuff!
    Now, tell me where I can find the best info on cave biota (in our Withlacoochee Watershed) with an eye towards finding federally protected species in caves. Apparently, none of the federal agencies takes state-designated protected species seriously.
    Have been asked to speak on rare (maybe worthy of federal designation as protected or endangered) cave biota at the hearing on the two planned Nuke Plants in Levy County. I have no expertise in this, but can parrot back what the experts say!

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