The Wildflower Wayside Shrine Trail is part of a distinct natural region in Central Florida called the Lake Wales Ridge. It is an ancient beach and sand dune system formed 1 - 3 million years ago that has survived various environmental changes.

Over the millennia, rising and receding seas exposed and covered much of the Florida Peninsula. Following glacial stages, polar ice-caps melted, waters rose, and a series of ridges stood as islands in a vast ocean that covered most of Florida. Isolated from their relatives, plants and animals existing on these ridges evolved unique characteristics. The Lake Wales Ridge is the largest of these ridges and runs through the middle of the Florida Peninsula.

Dear Florida Scrub,

I have fallen under your spell! I know that you are hundreds of thousands of years too old for me, but I still would like to know the secrets of your strange beauty!

Short-lived Friend

Dear Short-lived Friend,

I live very simply. I subsist on almost pure sand, which is dry as a desert for part of the year, and is severely limited in normal soil nutrients. I am frequently renewed and reinvigorated by fire, which removes my aging above-ground stuff, and makes room for my new shoots and for new generations of animals and seedlings that colonize my open spaces. I don’t want to boast, but few other natural habitats could take this life-style.

You may think I am too old for you, but I’m guessing that one of the reasons you are attracted to me is that you realize that a habitat that has endured as long as I have must have some amazing stories to tell you. Come by and see me!

Best Wishes,

Florida Scrub (You may call me Flora)