To step into a virgin tropical hammock – there’s nothing like it on earth, and certainly nowhere else in Florida or the United States will you find one so pristine, with 280 acres of large and ancient tropical trees – and the clouds of mosquitoes that surround them.
The delight of Lignumvitae Key is its namesake, the lignumvitae. Blooming with distinctive deep blue flowers each spring, they are credited with amazing medicinal properties. Lignumvitae also has one of the densest woods on earth. It does not float. There are more than a thousand lignumvitae trees on the island, including the prehistoric-looking and distinctive National Champion thought to be more than 1,000 years old.
Other National Champion trees here include fiddlewood at 27 feet tall, and torchwood at 22 feet. Depending on the weather and mosquitoes, the guided tour may lead you out to the far side of the island, where bay cedar, an aromatic endangered species related to sea lavender, grows along the coral rock shoreline.
Lignumvitae Key is accessible only by boat; check at Robbie’s Marina at MM 78.5 for kayak rentals. The island is one mile west of the marina. Call ahead for tour arrangements.