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Mr.SamuraiSword

Ye Ancient Sabals of Crystal River

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Mr.SamuraiSword

I went to Crystal River, specifically the Fort island trail a couple weeks ago while I was staying in Hudson Florida. I had first visited Crystal River in Febuary 2016, less then a year after the palm bug hit me, and I took as many driveby shots of the huge old Sabals on our way to and from the beach (I was 14) and have posted them on here on various occasions.  Heres some new photos of the many ancient palmettos growing in the hammocks in the marshes.

This first one was taken before the landscape changed from wooded forests, to hammocks and marshes, maybe 4 miles inland, while not as abundant as they are in the hammocks, there are many all over crystal river, and I only wish I could have taken more photos in these settings.

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Now for some of the many hammocks on the "trail". for context, it was quite a windy day so these aren't "sickly" or anything.

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Some of the larger hammocks spread for miles...

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Some hammocks had basically eroded into the marsh thus slowly drowning those palms.

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Notice the ones on the left are doing much better, just a few extra inches above the water table makes all the difference.

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I also noticed a fair amount of both Black and Red mangroves mixed in in some areas. 

Heres a couple Red Mangroves, 

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Black mangroves were far more prevalent and larger,

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At the Fort island beach at the end of the trail, there are less very tall ones as it is right on the ocean, but still a few..

On the mini boardwalk to the pier

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Directly on the water, were the largest of the black mangroves

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Also a clump of naturalizing Phoenix Dactylifera, This was the only non native palm I saw volunteering in the area, I saw this same palm in 2016, but alas, the tallest one in the clump died, its trunk still visible behind. The tallest one now is almost as tall as the original,  

 

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2016.

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Well, hope you enjoyed my Crystal River shots! 

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PalmatierMeg

Love those habitat photos! I hope all that land is safe inside a park/preserve from developments of McMansions that would destroy countless 100+ year-old palmettos.

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Mr.SamuraiSword
20 minutes ago, PalmatierMeg said:

Love those habitat photos! I hope all that land is safe inside a park/preserve from developments of McMansions that would destroy countless 100+ year-old palmettos.

I believe it is now a preserve. On another note I wonder how old some of these are, considering how slow they grow and some of these are in the 70+ ft range.  Think about how slow they grow affer 20 - 30 feet.  Could the tallest be over 200 yrs old?  I mean how slow was that 93 footer in Highlands hammock growing per year? 

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Chester B

I was there one year ago.  Sabals literally everywhere, probably the most common tree around.  Those ones growing in wetlands stretched for miles - lot of undeveloped areas.

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PalmatierMeg

I expect the really tall ones could be 100s of years old. They are a priceless part of FL's landscape.

I grew up in VA. The VA State tree is the dogwood and the State has a law prohibiting damaging dogwoods in habitat. When I was 7 my Dad took me on a rock hunting trip to find purple and red slate rocks for his new garden. I saw a flowering dogwood in the woods and picked a blossom to show him. That's when he told me about the law and that I should leave dogwoods alone. All the way home I wondered if the police would find out what I'd done and come to our house to arrest me like on Dragnet. I also worried that my Dad, an FBI agent, would get in trouble with J. Edgar Hoover because of his lawless daughter. Children are never as clueless as adults believe.

I don't know if FL has laws protecting Sabal palmettos in habitat. If not, it should.

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amh
2 hours ago, PalmatierMeg said:

Love those habitat photos! I hope all that land is safe inside a park/preserve from developments of McMansions that would destroy countless 100+ year-old palmettos.

Do they leave anything behind in Florida? Here in Texas they scrape the land all the way to bedrock.

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bubba

Ironically, almost on the same latitude across the State to the east, you will find similar sized Sabals growing on the Tomoka River...

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PalmatierMeg
23 hours ago, amh said:

Do they leave anything behind in Florida? Here in Texas they scrape the land all the way to bedrock.

Very little. They scrape the whole area bare, then lay out plots and roads. After every build most municipalities require the builder plant one or two (non-palm) trees and a few bushes.

Usually the Sabals are destroyed although occasionally they are sold to nurseries that dig them up to peddle up north or for FL landscaping. But not many people want 80' 300-year old palmettos. Saw palmettos are invariably destroyed as they don't transplant well.

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KDubU
1 hour ago, PalmatierMeg said:

Very little. They scrape the whole area bare, then lay out plots and roads. After every build most municipalities require the builder plant one or two (non-palm) trees and a few bushes.

Usually the Sabals are destroyed although occasionally they are sold to nurseries that dig them up to peddle up north or for FL landscaping. But not many people want 80' 300-year old palmettos. Saw palmettos are invariably destroyed as they don't transplant well.

Yup and that is what is unfortunate about FL. 
 

These are beautiful pics of some old Sabals, I truly hope they remain that way.

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amh
2 hours ago, PalmatierMeg said:

Very little. They scrape the whole area bare, then lay out plots and roads. After every build most municipalities require the builder plant one or two (non-palm) trees and a few bushes.

Usually the Sabals are destroyed although occasionally they are sold to nurseries that dig them up to peddle up north or for FL landscaping. But not many people want 80' 300-year old palmettos. Saw palmettos are invariably destroyed as they don't transplant well.

I'm sickened every time a new neighborhood is added to my area, the total deforestation should be criminal and greatly worsens the flood and drought situation. We'll eventually have total desertification.

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donalt

as a native Floridian, I never paid attention to the ubiquitous sabal palms that grow almost anywhere and everywhere. over time, I have come to respect these graceful and beautiful palms, and your photos show how beautiful they can be. thanks for sharing.

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