A Central Florida Natural History Bibliography

 Here is a completely disorganized yet annotated bibliography of Central Florida Natural History resources. I am positive that this is only scratching the surface. If you can think of any additions, please let me know; not only so I can add it to the list, but so I can read it! The only requirement is that the resource is specific to Central Florida.



Travels by William Bartram: The classic narrative that paints a vivid picture of Florida before widespread European civilization.  Readers find themselves searching for some scrap of land that reminds them of the paradise as it existed in Bartram’s time. Travels is the baseline for Florida natural history.

A Naturalist in Florida by Archie Carr: A series of Carr’s essays filled with personality and insight. This is among my favorite books on Florida. “Jubilee” and “The Bird and the Behemoth” are two of the best essays ever written about nature in the Southeast.

Tracking Desire by Susan Cerulean: Ostensibly about one species of bird, the swallow-tail kite, this book’s true themes are wide-ranging and condemning of modern Florida’s detachment. This book deserves more attention.

Tropical Son: Essays on the Nature of Florida by Jonathan Harrington: The poet visits most of the public parks and natural areas of Central Florida.

Bulow Hammock by David Rains Wallace: One man’s exploration of a historical,  natural, and cultural site through the eyes of an observant visitor. Wallace attempts to correlate the evolution of the human brain to the sub-tropical hammocks of Florida.

Forest in the Sand by Marjory Bartlett Sanger: A narrative on scrub jays living in the Ocala National Forest. Unfortunately, this book is hard to find. It is a quiet book that grows on you over multiple readings.

River of Lakes by Bill Belleville: Nobody knows Central Florida like Bill Belleville. History and nature combine on this epic along the St John’s river. If you had to read one book on the St Johns, this would be it.

Losing it all to Sprawl by Bill Belleville: Instead of tracing a river, the author traces time as he follows the expansion of Sanford. This books spends valuable time in the Wekiva and Seminole State Forest.

Priceless Florida by Whitney, Means, and Rudloe: The single definitive guide to all of Florida’s habitats. An amazing amount of information. A must-read.

Palmetto Leaves by Harriet Beecher Stowe: Another favorite of mine. This book makes you want to drift in a canoe down the Oklawaha River for an afternoon. My only regret is that many of the essays were intended to lure visitors to Florida, a trend that once started, hasn’t slowed to this day.

Florida’s Fabulous Insects by Mark Deyrup: The single best book on Florida insects. Beautiful photos and prescient selection of species to display, I return again and again to this book. Not intended as a field guide, there are many species here not shown in any other book. The ‘Florida’s Fabulous’ books are, in general, very good. You would not suffer for owning all of them. Mark is also the resident biologist at Archbold Station, the oldest and most famous Florida scrub.

Watching Wildlife in the Wekiva River Basin by Deborah Green: Spiral-bound pamplet highlighting hiking trails and wildlife within the Wekiva basin and Seminole State Forest. Small enough to take with you, it bursts with information. This is the closest book to a scrub field guide that we have.

The Wild Heart of Florida by Ripple and Cerulean: Personal essays from a variety of Floridian writers describing their favorite wild places in the state. This is a good sampling of both the literary traditions and the true Florida lying beyond the strip malls and parking lots.

Cross Creek and The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings: Classics. Without belaboring the point, you come to love interior Florida.

Their Eyes were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston: Another classic. My favorite piece of literature from Florida.

The Springs of Florida by Doug Stamm: Nice picture book. The best springs book I’ve seen, but I’m still waiting for the definitive springs book that truly captures their spirit and beauty.

Florida Wild Flowers and Roadside Plants by Bell and Taylor: The best book for flowers.

The Trees of Florida: A Reference and Field Guide by Gil Nelson: The best book for trees.

Butterflies through BinocularsFlorida  by Glassberg, Minno, and Calhoun: The best book for butterflies

A Field Guide to Snakes of Florida by Alan Tennant: The best book for snakes.

Grasshoppers of Florida by Capinera, Scherer, and Squitier: The best (and only) book on Florida grasshoppers.