News Releases

Five Centuries Timeline
Five Centuries of Florida History Timeline Event

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Five Centuries of Florida History

Come experience Five Centuries of Florida history on Saturday March 24th at De Soto National Memorial. From 10:00 am until 3:00 pm, period reenactors will share history and demonstrate their crafts, skills, and historic weapons.
Experience History — Walk through time as you explore Florida’s great history. Come and see the genuine Cracker cow horse “Lightning.” Poke around a Civil War encampment, or have coffee with GI’s from the sunshine state. Meet Spanish conquistadors, and 19th Century artisans. Come meet modern day archaeologist from our local Time Sifters Archaeology Society.
Free Shuttle Service and Event Parking — De Soto National Memorial is offering free event parking and free shuttle service. All parking for the event and trollies is at Martha B. King Middle School, located on 75th St NW. The Free trolley will run from 9:30 am until 4:00 pm at regular intervals.
Activities for the Whole Family — There will be many kids activities throughout the day, there will be a special time traveler’s passport were kids could earn the De Soto Junior Ranger badge! We also invite the kids to come out in their own costumes from their favorite time-periods.
Food — We are happy to have a popular local food establishment on site with food and drinks that can be purchased from 10:00 am until 3:00 pm. They will be offering Pizza and Shredded Pork Tacos!

Admission and all activities are free. Event hours are 10:00 am until 3:00 pm demonstration times and events will be posted on the day of, all activities are subject to change due to weather.

FREE Event Parking will be at Martha B. King Middle School at 600 75th St W, from 9:00 am until 3:00 pm.
Gumbo Limbo Removal
The two gumbo limbo trees that were damaged during Hurricane Irma will be removed November 6-7.

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For Immediate Release: November 1, 2017

Safety Concerns Prompt Removal of Gumbo Limbo Trees at

De Soto National Memorial

Champion tree cuttings available Nov. 8

Bradenton, Fla. — Two gumbo limbo trees damaged by hurricane Irma will be removed November 6th and 7th to ensure the ongoing safety of visitors at De Soto National Memorial in Bradenton. One of the trees is the current American Forests Champion Tree, meaning that it is the largest of its species in the country. Storm damage exacerbated the safety risk of the trees, already suffering from old age and disease.
De Soto National Memorial Superintendent Nathan Souder said, “Like many others, we love these trees. Ultimately our responsibility as public servants is to put the safety of our visitors first. The demise of these two trees is imminent and their location coupled with the amount of weight that will come down when they fall pose an unacceptable risk to visitors. This is a very difficult decision, but the most viable option.
Community residents and visitors are encouraged to view the trees before their removal early next week. The area around the trees has been roped off and visitors are asked to respect the closure for their own safety since the trees could fall at any given moment. The park visitor center and surrounding area will be closed throughout the tree removal process, which is expected to conclude by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday. Trails in the park will remain accessible through the adjacent Riverview Pointe Preserve county property.
Park neighbors and visitors can help preserve the legacy of the gumbo limbo champion tree by claiming their own cuttings to replant. In partnership with the Friends of De Soto, rangers will be giving out disease-free limbs at no cost to the public on November 8th from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
“This is a beautiful tree and we are pleased to offer our community an opportunity to take home a piece of history and help this tree live on in Bradenton and the surrounding area for decades to come,” said Margo Belaga, President of the Friends of De Soto.
“The champion tree will always have a place in our community,” encouraged Souder. “Gumbo limbo trees are famous for their ability to grow from cut branches planted in the ground. Many of the gumbo limbos beside the park visitor center were limbs from a previous national champion tree. ”
Due to the incurable Ganoderma disease that can strike the trunks of gumbo limbo trees, very large specimens have fallen at De Soto every four to five years.
Next week’s planned removal is phase one of a larger project. The second phase will involve seeking public comment on a strategy for managing the gumbo grove in a way that honors the park’s objectives and enhances the visitor experience. “We look forward to working with the community to make De Soto National Memorial an even better place to visit,” Souder said.
De Soto National Memorial commemorates Conquistador Hernando De Soto's 1539 expedition through the Southeastern United States and tells the history of the Native American tribal societies they encountered. Learn more about the park and upcoming events at or follow De Soto National Memorial on Facebook at To learn more about the Friends of De Soto visit

Champion Gumbo Limbo Damaged
Champion Gumbo Limbo Tree at De Soto National Memorial was damaged during Hurricane Irma

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Release Date: September 26, 2017

Gumbo Limbo Trees at De Soto National Memorial Damaged by Hurricane Irma National Champion Tree Showing Cracks in Trunk

Bradenton, Fla. – The national champion gumbo limbo tree (Bursera sumaruba) at De Soto National Memorial suffered significant damage from the high winds of Hurricane Irma. Arborists inspecting the tree on Thursday discovered two cracks in the trunk, creating critical stress on the tree. While cables were installed several years ago to improve the gumbo limbo’s structural integrity, they have been determined to be insufficient for the weight of the threatened portion of the tree, estimated to be 25,000 pounds. The National Park Service has temporarily roped off a safe zone around the tree, but because of the tree’s location, this blocks the main, wheelchair accessible walkway to the visitor center. Visitors can still access the building using an alternate trail. “The national champion gumbo limbo is an icon in the Bradenton community and we will fight to save it if we can do so in a matter that does not negatively impact the safety of visitors or their experience,” said Nathan Souder, Superintendent of De Soto National Memorial. “We are gathering information from certified arborists and exploring options so that we can make an informed decision before moving forward.” The De Soto National Memorial gumbo limbo tree was listed as an American Forests Champion Tree in 2007. At a height of 45 feet with a circumference of 195 inches, it is the national champion tree for the species, meaning it is the largest known tree of its kind in the country. Estimated to be eighty years old, this witness tree was present when the Colonial Dames of America dedicated the adjacent De Soto Trail monument in 1939 and is an important part of the park’s cultural landscape. “Gumbo limbo trees will always have a place at De Soto National Memorial,” said Souder. A previous national champion gumbo limbo tree was lost years ago but several of its branches were planted to create new trees on the north side of the sidewalk leading to the visitor center. Additionally, a large gumbo limbo located at the southwest corner of the visitor center was damaged and cannot be saved. The Category 2 hurricane winds of Irma cracked and twisted the trunk, bringing down a large section of the tree. Arborists have inspected the tree and determined it will have to be removed.
De Soto National Memorial commemorates Conquistador Hernando De Soto's 1539 expedition through the Southeastern United States and tells the history of the Native American tribal societies they encountered. Learn more at or follow De Soto National Memorial on Facebook at


Deso/UCF  Shoreline Project
UCF/ De Soto NAtional Memorial Shoreline Restoration Project

UCF Coastal and Estuarine Ecology Lab

Volunteers Needed for Vital Shoreline Project

Would you like to help the park out with an important event. One that could actually save some of the park's trails and valuable ecosystems. Well if you do please call and sign up to help August 12-13 with the UCF natural shoreline restoration project. That weekend from 9 am to 1 pm Scientist and students from the University of Central Florida Coastal and Estuarine lab in conjunction with De Soto National Memorial Rangers and volunteers will place oyster shell bags and plant mangrove seedling in an effort to stabilize and create new shorelines. With the ever increasing threat of gradual rising seas levels many of the parks trails will be threatened. This project and many like it will potentially help reduce these effects of global climate change on the park. With your help, us as a community will take action and make a stake in preserving one of the areas best preserved and beloved sites. Please call 941-792-0458 or email us at for details

Last updated: March 21, 2018