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Central Florida's natural environment has always drawn people to the region. From scientists to snowbirds, the area's natural surroundings have offered something for everyone. In the later 19th century, much of Florida was still a natural wonderland, full of exotic flora and fauna awaiting investigation. Health-conscious Northerners came south to partake of warm temperatures and mineral baths with hopes of fortifying their health or curing what ailed them. For those in need of rest or recreation, the region's pleasant climate, lakes and rivers, proximity to the ocean, and acres of woodland made Central Florida a great place to visit or settle.

"… In the Park are growing many Cabbage Palms. This species of Palm grow a body as of spikes [drawing of trunk] but as the tree gets older they split + drop off [drawing of frond] leaving a tree of nearly uniform Diam with a handsome appearance [drawing of cabbage palm] the small Palm only grows about waist high and is called the Palmetto there is also the Saw Palm I have not yet seen to know. The Japan Plum I see in bloom the bloom about ready to drop it ripens about March or April – the earliest fruit to ripen.""-Excerpt from Travel Diary, Jacksonville, Florida dated December 21, 1895

"There is a plant [drawing of plant and leaf?] called by some Spanish needles -- Bear Grass but a Gardener at Park says its right name is Spanish Bayonet. The blade is some 2 in broad and often grows from bottom to top again only the body until reaching the top – it is a dark Green + I was told the bloom was in spikes I saw the fruit about 1 ¼ in[ch] in diam + some 4 in l[on]g hanging from a stem of some 2 ft. long there were a great many – On opening one there was but little odor – the meat purple + the seed flat and black nearly round about ¼ in Diam and packed in some rows closely from end to end [drawing of "cut seed off" and "seed row"] he gave me one but I fear it will not so I cannot take it home…" - Travel Diary, Jacksonville, Florida dated December 21, 1895.

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