Nature Preserve Tour

Nature Preserve Tour

Miami, Florida 33135, United States

Created By: Florida International University

Tour Information

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Welcome to the FIU Nature Preserve Virtual Tour!

The FIU Nature Preserve is an 11-acre environmental education facility, mimicking the Florida Everglades. The preserve was founded in 1978 by two students and one faculty member to be a multi-purpose area providing localized exhibits of the plant communities found in the Florida Everglades. Today the preserve consists of three distinct ecosystems, the Pine Rocklands, Tropical Hardwood Hammock and Wetlands which provide habitat for the 13 endangered plants, 15 threatened plants, and over 200 other plant and animal species that call this place home.

The primary purpose of the Nature Preserve is to serve as an outdoor classroom. Each year many FIU classes, as well as other groups from other local colleges, grade schools, and environmental clubs, take field trips to the FIU Nature Preserve to experience a piece of the Florida Everglades and better understand the species that they may be learning about.

Over 30,000 visitors each year come to hike, exercise, and experience the wildlife within the preserve. This large urban, open, green space plays a key role in the social well-being of the FIU community providing a beautiful environment filled with clean air for students and faculty to explore and enjoy.

Tour Map

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What You'll See on the Tour

FIURolando · 1. Welcome To The Northeast Trail Welcome to the Northeast Trail, this is where our tour will begin. We will start by taking visitors into the nature preserve through the dense Tropical Hardwood Hammock, around the dry Pine R... Read more
FIURolando · 2. The Pigeon Plum Is A The Pigeon Plum (Coccoloba diversifolia) is a fast-growing tree that lives in full sun or partial shade doing best on moist, well-drained soils. These trees get their scientific name from the great var... Read more
FIURolando · 3. Tetrazygia Is A Shrub Tetrazygia (Tetrazygia bicolor) is a shrub with either an open or dense crown. Trunks grow up to about 4 inches in diameter with a light gray to brown colored bark. The top of the leaves are dark green... Read more
The Inkwood (Exothea paniculata) is a slow-growing tree with a slender dense crown that has glossy leaves and tiny fragrant blooms in spring and early summer. This tree produces red berries that ripen to a deep purple. Inkwood trees can gro... Read more
FIURolando · 5. The Pine Rocklands Is A Globally The Pine Rocklands is a globally imperiled plant community native to South Florida. It is known for its open canopy dominated by the Miami-Dade County Slash Pine and a rich herbaceous unders... Read more
FIURolando · 6. The Dade County Slash Pine Is The Dade County Slash Pine (Pinus elliottii var. densa) is a native tree that ranges from central Florida down to the Florida Keys. Slash pines are the foundational species of the Pine Rockland... Read more
FIURolando · 7. An Ecotone Is A Transitional An ecotone is a transition area between two adjacent ecological communities that share characteristics of both. Our ecotone areas are a combination of Pine Rockland and Tropical Hardwood Hammoc... Read more
FIURolando · 8. The West Indian Mahogany Is The West Indian Mahogany (Swietenia mahagoni) is a medium to large tree with a straight trunk and a broad, dense, rounded crown. They have the potential to grow up to 75 ft tall with a trunk diam... Read more
FIURolando · 9. Tropical Hardwood Hammocks Are The Tropical Hardwood Hammock is a hardwood forest dominated by evergreen, semi-deciduous trees and shrubs. Hardwood trees create a closed, dense canopy that provides a lot of shade and coole... Read more
FIURolando · 10. Live Oak Is A Large Live Oak (Quercus virginiana) is a large, picturesque tree usually graced with Spanish Moss strongly reminiscent of the Old South. Back when wooded ships were used, the bark of the Live Oak was preferr... Read more
FIURolando · 11. The East Pollinator Gardens The East Pollinator Gardens were planted in honor of the 9/11 day of service. The gardens mainly consist of native pollinator plants. Some of the species planted include Scorpion Tail, Milkweed,... Read more
FIURolando · 12. The FIU Felsberg Veteran The FIU Felberg Veterans Plaza opened on Veterans Day 2017. The statue at the center of the plaza is of U.S. Marine Paul Michael Felsberg, who volunteered for a second tour of duty in Iraq after h... Read more
FIURolando · 13. This Garden Was The First This garden was the Nature Preserve’s first dedicated pollinator garden. The garden was planted in honor of the 9/11 Day of Service in 2015 when over 100 volunteers participated in honoring the ... Read more
FIURolando · 14. Earth Day Garden These pollinator gardens were planted in April 2016 in honor of Earth Day. The flowering plants in the garden attract pollinators such as birds, bees, and butterflies. Some of the species planted include S... Read more
FIURolando · 15. The Dried Up Ferns Living The dried ferns living on the bark of this Live Oak is called Resurrection Fern (Pleopeltis polypodioides). This remarkable plant can lose about 75% of its water content during a typical dry perio... Read more
FIURolando · 16. Wrapped Around The Trunk Wrapped around the trunk of the Pigeon plum is the Florida Butterfly Orchid, Encyclia tampensis. This orchid is distributed in the Bahamas, Cuba, and Florida where it is one of the most abundant ep... Read more
FIURolando · 17. Following The Success Following the success of our first prescribed burn, we scouted other areas that lent themselves to the inclusion of the Pine Rockland ecosystem. The Pine Rockland expansion area within the Nature Pres... Read more
FIURolando · 18. The Buttonwood, Also Known As The Buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus), also known as “Silver Buttonwood”, is part of the mangrove tree family. The leaves and stems are covered with silver hairs giving the tree its name. E... Read more
FIURolando · 19. Living On Top Of This Live Oak Living atop this Live Oak is a series of Cardinal Airplants (Tillandsia fasciculata) also known as the giant air plant. This large air plant is a species of bromeliad that is native to Mexic... Read more
FIURolando · 20. The Sabal Palm Is The The Sabal Palm (Sabal palmetto) is the state tree of Florida. It is extremely common and can be found in a wide variety of habitats across the southeastern United States, Cuba, and the Bahamas. A hig... Read more
FIURolando · 21. The Wild Tamarind The Wild tamarind (Lysiloma latisiliquum) is a tree native to hammocks within the Everglades and portions of the upper Keys. This large, fast-growing tree can grow up to 50 feet tall. Tamarind trees deve... Read more
FIURolando · 22. Several Pollinator Earth Day 2016 Several pollinator gardens were planted here on April 22, 2016 in honor of Earth Day. These gardens contain colorfully vibrant flowering plants that attract pollinators such as birds, bees... Read more
FIURolando · 23. A Wetland Is An Ecosystem A wetland is an ecosystem that is primarily flooded seasonally or partly throughout the year. It is considered to be one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet, home to species present i... Read more
FIURolando · 24. The Royal Palm Is The Royal Palm (Roystonea regia) is a species of palm that is native to south Florida. This large and attractive palm has been planted throughout the tropics and subtropics as an ornamental tree. Outside... Read more
FIURolando · 25. The Palms At The Southwest The palm trees at the Southwest Trail Entrance behind the TREEmendous flowering tree collection were planted in the Spring of 2017. The pollinator gardens adjacent to the trail entrance were pla... Read more
FIURolando · 26. Hydrological Wells Along the Southwest Trail lies 3 hydrological monitoring wells tucked amongst the vegetation. These wells are drilled into the Biscayne Bay aquifer at three different depths: 20 feet, 40 feet, and 80 fe... Read more
FIURolando · 27. The Firebush Is A Firebush (Hamelia patens) is a large shrub named for its flame-colored flowers and red-tinted leaves. It has been frequently used in our surrounding pollinator gardens because of its beautiful flowers th... Read more
FIURolando · 28. The Golden Necklace Pod The Golden Necklace Pod (Sophora tomentosa) is a flowering plant native to the coastal regions of South Florida and the Caribbean. The Necklace Pod is a medium-sized shrub that can reach up to 10 fe... Read more
FIURolando · 29. The Strangler Fig Is Strangler Fig (Ficus aurea) is part of the ficus family, named for their parasitic growth pattern on host trees resulting in the host tree's death. Seed germination usually takes place on the canopy of... Read more
FIURolando · 30. Solution Holes Solution holes result from organic acids dissolving the surface limestone. When rainwater mixes with decomposing materials such as leaves, it creates a weak acidic solution that then erodes through the thin ... Read more
FIURolando · 31. Tremendous Miami Is A TREEmendous Miami is a Florida not-for-profit corporation. Within the last 20 years, they have planted nearly 25,000 trees and enlisted the help of more than 6,000 volunteers from the community. TREEm... Read more
FIURolando · 32. One Of The Most Important Assets One of the most important assets of the Agroecology program is the FIU Organic Garden. Through this hands-on teaching facility, students gain experiential learning about food production and... Read more
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FIURolando · 33. Forests Are Gone To Anywhere Forests are home to anywhere from 50-90% of land-living biodiversity. Forests exist undisturbed on their own for many years, not needing pruning, weeding, or any other laborious task to manage... Read more
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FIURolando · 34. Outlining The North Trail Outlining the North Trail is a series of small outcroppings of exposed limestone leading up to our Pine Rockland habitat. Along the southwest side of the trail, one can see a Gumbo-Limbo tree tha... Read more
FIURolando · 35. The Gumbo - Limbo The Gumbo-Limbo (Bursera simaruba) is a medium-sized tree growing up to 30-40 feet tall with a trunk diameter of 2-3 feet. Winter-migrating birds tend to flock to the Gumbo-Limbo to consume its attractive... Read more
The noticeable transition between hardwood hammock and cleared land demonstrates another example of an ecotone. This kind of divide usually creates an edge effect, where there is a greater density of species living on the boundary than in e... Read more
FIURolando · 36. Limestone Occurs At Limestone occurs at or near the surface of the Southeastern peninsula of Florida. It forms along the Atlantic Coastal Ridge and extends beneath the Everglades, where it is commonly covered by a thin la... Read more
FIURolando · 37. Ecological Restoration Ecological restoration is the process of assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged, or destroyed. The north side of the Nature Preserve is currently undergoing an ecologi... Read more


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