Places to Visit: Angus K. Gholson, Jr. Nature Park

Visit Angus K. Gholson, Jr. Nature Park in Chattahoochee to experience some of Florida's rarest plants in the unique ravine ecosystems along the Apalachicola River. This region of the Florida Panhandle is one of the top biodiversity hotspots in the nation, home to several species at their southernmost range, as well as several endemic to just this region. Many of these rare species can be viewed from the meandering trails that follow along the clear, spring-fed stream in the park, and up the ravine slope.

Angus K. Gholson, Jr. Nature Park

The Nature Park was named after a renowned botanist from the region, Angus K. Gholson, who grew up nearby and played there as a child. Angus frequently botanized the area as an adult and built the park trails, which he stewarded until his death in 2014. A dedicated group of FNPS Magnolia Chapter members have since become the caretakers of the park, battling invasive species, and maintaining the trails. They have also worked hard to restore the park and trails after the region was badly damaged by Hurricane Michael in 2018.

You can find something interesting in bloom at almost anytime of year, but spring is a choice season to see many of the park's rare species in bloom.

Spring-blooming species found in the park;
  • Underwood's trillium (Trillium underwoodii)
  • Lanceleaf trillium (Trillium lancifolium)
  • Dimpled trout lily (Erythronium umbilicatum)
  • Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)
  • Blue woodland phlox (Phlox divaricata)
  • Smooth Solomon's seal (Polygonatum biflorum)
  • Greendragon (Arisaema dracontium)
  • Merrybells (Uvularia sessifolia)
  • Southern horsebalm (Collisonia anisata)
  • Southeastern flowering spurge (Euphorbia pubentissima)
  • Florida flame azalea (Rhododendron austrinum)
  • Fringed campion (Silene catesbaei)
  • Baldwin's spinypod (Matelea baldwyniana)
  • Smooth oxeye (Heliopsis gracilis)
  • Florida torreya (Torreya taxifolia)
Article and photos by Lilly Anderson-Messec. First published in the Sabal minor Vol 25(6).

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