Three Sisters Springs Crystal River Florida

The Three Sisters Springs

Linda Curtis, volunteer botanist

Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River Florida has lost most of its hydric forest trees and understory plants due to prepping for development and later a small pine plantation.

A plan to return some of the native trees and shrubs by the Citrus County chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society has some success, considering the difficulty in planting saplings and shrubs from pots into a bored hold in the limestone. Unless the plants can grow roots into fissures in the limestone, the roots grow around and around and eventually the upper plant perishes.

Linda Curtis, volunteer, assessed  plantings in 2017 & 3018 and has recommended signage with 3-4 inch font readable by the tourists on the plank walk. Another area needing signage is the trail to the east of the parking lot which takes sight-seers to the tidal restoration creeks that is now abundant in wetland plants that support invertebrates and birds.  The new inlet/outlets for the two  daily  high and low tides have been planted with native trees  including cypress, red maple, sweetgum, Carolina willow. Sedges and rushes dominate the wetland high tide zone.

Trees grown in large pots were planted in boreholes around the manatee lagoon. Some of the former large trees were removed for shoreline repair and rock stabilization.  Shrubs, ferns and other herbaceous plant were placed between the plank walk and the lagoon shore. The almost unseen Carex sedges appear as small grassy tufts.

Image below shows water oak, Quercus nigra on left, fronds of young Sable palms, Sabal palmetto, the evergreen red cedar, Junipers virginiana and a yucca. The goal was a no-mow zone as a barrier to prevent snorkelers, kayakers, and swimmers from  entering land side. Initiated by former U.S. F&W director Michael Lusk, he  placed flags for the new plants position. Some of the trees were run over by the manatee rescue truck during a dilemma, but most of the twenty-some trees remain. In 2017 and January-May 2018, and 4 years later, the planted trees from CCNPS were tape measured at one foot above soil line, height recorded and general condition noted. The most robust was red buckeye, Aesculus pavia,  nearest the end of the plank walk at the manatee entry/exit channel. A small tree with red-stemmed compound leaves and pretty red flowers, the tourists are certain to enjoy this small tree/shrub.

Image taken of the manatee lagoon near the trolley unloading area from the  plank walk.

Manatee Lagoon

Manatee Lagoon

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