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It is common for students or people on vacation to pick locations for which they can visit and spend time either camping, hiking, canoeing or picnicking with their families and friends. Wekiwa Springs State Park is such a place that has gained popularity with majority of individuals looking for a place to spend quality time either conducting studies on the habitat and general environment or relaxing (Scott, 2004). The spring's name is from the Creek Indian word Wekiwa, meaning spring of water or bubbling water which is suitable for the park as it is a twenty-one mile region where the Wekiwa River flows (Scott, 2004).
Wekiwa Springs State Park possesses a wide variety of plant communities that serve the purpose of providing year-round protective cover and food for an equally diverse as well as abundant animal communities (Scott, 2004). These plants provide food in form of berried, foliage, seeds and nuts during different seasons thus ensuring survival for the animals that feed on them. Some of the numerous plants that can be seen in this particular Park include the poison ivy 3 form leafs, switch cane, cherry laurel, sand flower catkins, dog fennel which is from the daisy family, pignut hickory and the basswood tree which are not symmetrical if one folds them (Scott, 2004). Other plants include southern magnolia, needle palm, bay gall, wild cherry, water oak, sweet gum which is star-shaped and red bay from the Loral family. One of the animals that can also been seen is the Preacher which is a bird species.
Poison ivy, also known as Toxicodendron radicans is considered one of the most dangerous plants in terms of toxicity, as they tend to affect skin once a person or animal gets into close contact with the plant (Scott 2004). This particular plant is also a weed and a climber and has brilliant red foliage in the fall, which makes them attractive to the eye and tempting to touch. When the plant is at its bloom, it forms long panicles of yellow-green flowers (Scott 2004). Dog fennel from the daisy family, also known as Chamomile flower is a plant that has apple-like fragrance, which is also used for therapeutic and healing purposes (Scott 2004).
It possesses a daisy shaped blossoms and gray-green feathery leaves that are covered with down in addition to the apple flavor and scent. Another plant observed during the field trip at Wekiwa Springs State Park is the switch cane, also known as Arundinaria tecta is a smaller version of the bamboo family and is often found growing in the wild (Scott, 2004). While the river cane or the Arundinaria gigantea is the larger species of bamboo and can grow up to 5 meters, the switch cane only grows up to a height of 2 meters (Scott, 2004).
As aforementioned, one of the animals that a person can observe is the Preacher. This is bird, commonly known as the Vireo is a species of a songbird and possesses red eyes making it easily recognizable by a person (Scott 2004). The reason as to why the vireo is nicknamed as the Preacher bird is that it can make an estimated 40 distinct cries in a single hour, non-stop (Scott 2004). Both males and females make persistent calls even though females tend to be more musical than their male counterpart species (Scott 2004).
Other animal species that can be found at the Wekiwa Springs State Park include bald eagles, white ibis, raccoons, barred owls, American alligators, river otters, aquatic turtles, crowned snakes and bears especially the Florida Black Bear. Individuals who go to view the wildlife are often advised to keep a safe distance from them, as they can become a nuisance if disturbed by human activities such as picnics.
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