Walton Scrub is easy to pass. Located at 10809 S. Indian River Drive between Jensen and Ft Pierce, the only clue that it exist is a sign and a small parking area. Look east for a marvelous view of the Indian River Lagoon. Turn west and find 33-hidden acres containing threatened and endangered plants found only in the habitat of scrub. A half- mile self-guided interpretive trail is available on line.
~Ed agreed to go so long as I drove and if it only took an hour.
“So you really want to show me this scrub again? Haven’t you already taken me to places like this?”
“Ed, I have but every place is different. You never know what you may see!”
I became interested in scrub environments about three years ago. Scrub seemed more interesting once I realized how ecologically valuable it is and how humans have gobbled-up almost every inch for development. I have so many memories of running through scrub as a kid and today there is basically “none” left.
My childhood home in St Lucie Estates had been a sand pine forest, and there were many empty lots. I remember sand pines, scrub oaks, gopher tortoises, scrub jays, and indigo snakes. I remember hot white sands and blue tailed skinks. For me, even today, the sand pine scrub represents my childhood.
And in this special preserve, this Walton Scrub, on this special day, Ed and I found the most enormous sand pine trees I have ever seen. Bent and enduring; tremendous and old. I felt as though I was looking at a ponderosa itself!
“Holy cow, Ed, look at the size of this sand pine!” I shouted out, running my hand over the rugged bark.
“Now that is big Jacqui.”
We started down the Interpretive Trail learning about a former pineapple plantation, hickory trees, sand oaks, sand pines, and a host of other familiar but different flora and fauna.
“Look how white the sand is! Isn’t it cool?”
Ed smiled, we walked down the trail finding a menagerie of interesting things and a few more gigantic sand pines, as well as a gorgeous live oak.
“That is a beautiful oak tree Ed. Smile!”-Sand Pine cone must be exposed to fire to open making it harder to reproduce.-Another huge sand pine-Sand pine bark-Wind swept gigantic sand pine We walked under a fallen tree, then Ed saw something that really interested him. The railroad tracks. We could see that the tracks were being doubled. We talked about how much a high-speed train would change the Treasure Coast’s character and how things had changed it before, -like the first time Henry Flagler came though these sand dunes.
It seemed in no time we were through. Ed and my short but wonderful walk back in time was also a reminder of future change. I’m just glad, Ed and I saw the biggest sand pines we have ever experienced. “You never know what you may see.” And now, Ed agrees!
-Ed studies changes to the railroad tracks. -A sand pine forest of tall thinner trees-Rosary pea-Maybe a harvester ant pile-Prickly Pear delicious for gopher tortoises–Gopher tortoises are keystone species creating habitat for hundreds of more animals-Gopher habitat- you can make you yard more appealing to gophers by letting parts go natural-Young sand oak and reindeer moss a classic feature of a scrub habitat-Sand pines are known for leaning due to wind-Pretty lichen atop oak bark- white and pink -Ed gets his photo before a giant sand pine too! -Budding hammock paradise tree