American Lotus, Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, Alachua County, 1999. Photo by John Moran
American Lotus, Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, Alachua County, 1999.
Photo by John Moran

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Visitors will have an opportunity to discover the unique wildflowers that inspired Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513 to name this state “place of flowers” at the Florida Museum of Natural History’s newest photography exhibition.

On display April 19 through Aug. 3, “La Florida: 500 Years in the Place of Flowers” showcases images from Gainesville nature photographer John Moran, who roamed the state to capture the beauty and mystique of Florida’s original Garden of Eden. It features 15 large-format photographs showing the timeless beauty of wildflowers along with a panel describing the history and culture of early Florida.

“The state’s astonishing wildflowers are an essential part of the real Florida,” Moran said.

Traveling the state with his cameras, Moran seeks his vision of natural Florida as it must have appeared to Ponce de Leon. His photography has appeared in numerous publications including National Geographic, Life, Time, Newsweek, Smithsonian, The New York Times Magazine and the National Audubon Society Field Guide to Florida.

“John’s photography captures the essence and splendor of the unique flora found here in the Sunshine State,” said Lisa Roberts, executive director of the Florida Wildflower Foundation, which developed the exhibit as part of the Viva Florida 500 campaign. “The display takes the viewer to swamps, springs, sand hills and deep into the woods in search of the natural beauty that defines ‘La Florida,’ ‘place of flowers.’ ”

The exhibit is funded with proceeds from state wildflower license plate sales. To learn more about Florida’s wildflowers and the work of the foundation, visit For more information about the exhibit, visit or call 352-846-2000.


Writer: Katina Prokos,
Source: Darcie MacMahon,
Media contact: Paul Ramey, 352-273-2054,