Lignumvitae Key Professional Guide
Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook
"Lignumvitae Key has been owned by the state and The Nature Conservancy since 1970. It’s the highest of all the keys at a spectacular 16 feet above sea level! In the nineteenth century, the key’s giant mahogany trees were felled, and in the 1920s some exotic plants and animals were introduced, but otherwise the tropical forest is considered to be virgin hammock, of a type once more widespread in Florida. Tropical hardwood hammocks are considered to be the keystone habitat and the pinnacle of forest development on the Florida Keys. They are regarded as one of North America’s rarest ecosystems.
Lignumvitae Key State Botanical Site has a significant area of remaining hammock. Most of the plants in a tropical hardwood hammock originate from the West Indies, carried in the storm winds or in the crops of birds. Of more than 200 species of plants, trees, and shrubs that live there, 36 are listed as endangered or threatened. Lignumvitae Key has one of the better preserved forests in Florida; there are still some 1,500 lignumvitae trees there, making it one of the main places in the Florida Keys for this species of tree."