|Sky Blue Lupine||Big Flag Pawpaw||Prickly Pear|
|Pygmy Fringe Tree||Highlands Scrub
|Scrub Blazing Star|
The Lake Wales Ridge
The Lake Wales Ridge, commonly referred to as the “backbone of Florida,” and other Florida ridges preserve the dunes that once separated the Atlantic Ocean from the Gulf of Mexico.
The “sugar white” sand so desired at Gulf coast beaches creates a poor and porous soil. Pines and oaks seem stunted–often not tall enough to shade an adult!
Other shrubs, wildflowers, and vines create amazing strategies for survival in the harsh environment: thick, leathery and curled inward or small, waxy leaves that retain moisture; thorns to ward off predators; seeds that sprout only when the parent plant expires.
As much as two-thirds of the original scrub has been bulldozed for agriculture–especially citrus groves–and development. What remains is either neglected or protected–and difficult to manage because of its requirements for periodic fire.
Because of this extensive loss of habitat for both plants and animals, Highlands County is now ranked eleventh in the nation for sustaining the highest number of threatened and endangered species, according to Archbold Biological Station.
The Wayside Shrine Trail offers an easy way–literally and metaphorically–through this challenging and rare landscape. The trail will guide people through the unfamiliar growth, and the wayside shrines–with their incredible woodcuts of the scrub’s extraordinary plants–offer us a perspective that increases our understanding and appreciation of this uncommon environment.
Plant Species Guide
The Wayside Shrine Plant Species List provides the common and Latin names of plants present on the Wayside Shrine Trail, and also gives a description of the plant and its threat status.