Pineland – The Calusa Heritage Trail

IMG_1308After a hike at Conservation 20/20’s Galt Preserve and lunch at the Lazy Flamingo, we explored the Calusa Heritage Trail at Pineland. This site is on Pine Island off the Lee County, Florida coast. It was once a part of the Calusa nation in Southwest Florida. The remains of several shell mounds still stand here, as well as part of the Calusa-built transportation network of canals. It was a hot afternoon – unusually hot for April – and we probably made quicker work of our self-guided tour than we would have in more pleasant weather. Still found beautiful things to see and wonder about. Let’s go!

IMG_1202At least six feet tall, this agave rises impressively from the base of on of Pineland’s shell mounds.

IMG_1206The view from the top of the mound. There are lots of theories – they’re burial grounds, they’re ceremonial, they’re sacrificial. But one thing is clear – this is pretty far up for storm surge to get you. My money is on the practical purpose – shell mounds are hurricane evacuation points.

IMG_1223Along about the beginning of June or so, the entire top of the mound is going to be bursting with the orange glow of royal poinciana.

IMG_1227Whelks were by far the most common shell I saw on the mounds, but there were ocassional other types of gastropods, such as this tulip and the fighting conch by my toes. Of course, these shells are antiquities and therefore NOT candidates for collection.

IMG_1230We found wild native poinsettia plants growing on the ascent to another mound. These are great for attracting pollinators to your garden. Notice how small the red leaves are, as compared to the cultivated variety.

IMG_1246We also found some fiery lantana setting fruit. Lantana is not a native plant, so this was something of a surprise for us. I think we can conclude that Pineland is not under a native-only mandate when it comes to planting.

TO BE CONTINUED…

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