A Fungus Among Us

As I wander the Trail I always look to see what is flowering and, near one of the wooden walkways, I noticed that the Climbing Hempvine is starting to open up.  It’s in the Aster or Daisy family and its flowers are all disk flowers just like Feay’s Palafox.

Climbing Hempvine

 

A Hog Plum had dropped it’s colorful fruit on the trail.   I’m surprised that it hasn’t been gobbled up by an animal or bird.

Hog Plum Fruit

 

The weather has been wet so fungi are appearing.  I spotted this one near a tree root which crossed the Trail.

 Boletus 1

 

When I turned the mushroom over I saw the sponge layer of tubes which meant that it was some species of Boletes.

 Boletus 2

 

I broke off a little piece at the edge to give a little picture of the tubes where the spores are produced.

 Boletus 3

 

Further down the trail I came on an old mushroom that was covered with a cottony mold.  Everything is the host of another organism.

 Cotton Mold

 

 That’s all for now – but standby for future postings.

Zigzagging Down The Trail

In my visits to The Trail I rarely encounter another person and, for the most part, that is fine as I often spread out my photo gear out while trying to capture an image.  But as I strolled the Trail today I noticed how the vines and Palmetto fronds were starting to encroach and narrow the trail.  I guess there aren’t many people willing to brave a little mud and heat to see the wonders found along the Trail.

 Trail 6

In South Florida few trees have leaves that change color.  But one tree that does is the Red Maple and it’s leaves grabbed my attention.

 Red Maple 1

I found some paper wasps building a home under a Palmetto frond.

 Paper Wasp 2

Some little carnivorous plants, Zigzag Bladderworts, are coming to life.

 Zigzag Bladderwort 3

Down at the river, the lovely Saltmarsh Morning Glory was blooming.

 Saltmarsh Morning Glory 2

I missed the flowering of the Florida Butterfly Orchid but here is a shot of the seed pods.  When these open in a few months, the wind will blow the seeds far and wide and their life cycle will continue.

Florida Butterfly Orchid 3

That’s all for now – but standby for future postings.

Ferns and Oaks

Lining the banks of the river are the leaves of the Giant Leather Fern.

Giant Leather Fern 1

 

Here’s a closer look at the spores which cover the underside of the leaves.

Giant Leather Fern 2

 

Look up and you will see another fern, Golden Polyploidy, hanging from the limb of an Oak tree.

Golden polypody

 

An Oak also provides a home for the Southern Needleleaf air plants.

Southern Needleleaf 1

 

And finally, for a bit of color, here is the flower of the Sensitive Briar vine.

Sensitive Briar 2

 

If you are tempted to reach out and grab the flower, better think twice.  Here is a closer look at the sharp bristles along the stalk.

Sensitive Briar 3

 

That’s all for now – but standby for future postings. 

Interesting fruit

Slash Pines are wonderful native trees – the wood is strong and the texture of the bark has a great appearance.  In addition, sometimes the trunk will curve into unusual shapes.

Slash Pine 2

I only spotted one wildflower in bloom.  Nuttall’s Meadowbeauty is a lovely little purple flower that was laying low to the ground.

Nuttall's Meadowbeauty

However, a lot of  flowers, shrubs, and trees are starting to bear fruit.

Myrtle Oak 1

That was the start of  the acorns on a Myrtle Oak.  Here is an image of the acorns that are a little older.

Myrtle Oak 2

Do you remember the Tarflower?  The petals have a sticky feel.

Tar Flower 2

Here is a shot of the Tarflower’s fruit.  You can see a bead of sap rolling down the stem.

Tar Flower 3

And here is a close up shot of the fruit where the sap provided a sticky shiny covering.  It reminds me of the candy apples I ate at Halloween.

Tar Flower 4

That’s all for now – but standby for future postings.

Things I Found in the Mud

I never fail to enjoy looking at Slash Pine trees – the shapes, the textures, the strength.  Here is what caught my eye this morning.

Slash Pine 1

Another thing that caught my eye was the Elliott’s Milkpea.  This is a little vine with white flowers.  You can find it climbing on shrubs as you walk down the trail.  The flower is small but if you take a close look this is what you will see.

Elliott's Milkpea 1

But now to the mud.  Since we’ve had a lot of rainy weather, the trail has a number of muddy spots.  In one of these, a little white flower caught my eye.  Herb-of-Grace was in full bloom.

Herb-of-Grace 3

Further along I spotted what looked like a poached egg laying in the mud.

Loblolly Bay 3

It took me a minute, but when I realized what it was I looked up and saw the wonderful flowers of a Loblolly Bay.

Loblolly Bay 2

That’s all for now – but standby for future postings.

Snake Vines and Snowballs

This was a wonderful day to stroll down the Trail.  The sky was blue and there was no rain in the immediate forecast.

Trail 5

 

Along the side of the Trail a Smilax vine was rising up from the ground like a green snake that was covered with nasty looking spikes.  One of the common names given to this vine is Earleaf Greenbrier but a good friend of mine grew up calling it a Snake Vine and I like that name the best of all.

Smilax 1

 

The remains of the tendrils that at one time had been used to hoist itself up now dead and brown but still wrapped around a piece of a twig

Smilax 2

 

The fresh green tendrils at the end of the Snake Vine were reaching out to grab hold of something to help the vine climb higher.

Smilax 3

 

And if they couldn’t find anything else to grab, they grabbed each other and intertwined.

Smilax 4

 

If you get down to the water, look around and you will see a little white snowball.

Buttonbush 1

 

The snowball consists of many flowers and is found on a tall woody shrub known as Buttonbush which is a member of the Coffee Family.

Buttonbush 2

 

That’s all for now – but standby for future postings.

Images From The Trail

I almost missed spotting this Black Racer who was warming up after a cool evening.

Black Racer

Down by the dock in the water I found a tiny little white flower with the name Pineland Pimpernel.

Pineland Pimpernel

But something that really caught my eye was a pair of invasive species that were next to each other.  Peruvian Primrosewillow popped up 3 or 4 articles ago and I bring it up again because you will find it happily co-existing with another highly invasive species, the Old World Climbing Fern.

Old World Climbing Fern 2

Here is a closer shot of the fern’s leaves.  Note that some of the edges are smooth and some are deeply lobed.

Old World Climbing Fern 3

If the leaf is deeply lobed it is loaded with spores and here is a shot of the spores lining the edges of the lobes giving them a quilted look.

Old World Climbing Fern 4

The fern is a Category 1 invasive and, if you want to read more, here is a link:  http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/node/255

 

But enough about invasive species.  I want to leave you with an image of the Tar Flowers that are now in bloom.  They are beautiful and really worth visiting them on The Trail.

Tar Flower

That’s all for now – but standby for future postings.

Leaf-Rolling Weevil

While strolling down the Trail I started noticing that some of the oak leaves were rolled up.

Leaf-Rolling Weevil 1

I took a closer look.

Leaf-Rolling Weevil 2

I looked at the end

Leaf-Rolling Weevil 3

And I cut it in half and looked

Leaf-Rolling Weevil 4

Then I started searching the Internet in hopes of finding what sort of creature rolled the leaves.  And what I found amazed me.  In this blog I normally try to keep words to a minimum but this rolled leaf provides such a fascinating example of a complex genetically-determined behavior that I just have to share.

The leaves are rolled by a weevil to provide a nest for its eggs.  The following is a quote from a University of Florida article which fully details the process:

“The leaf is measured by stepping it off “so many paces up – so many paces over.” Beginning from the margin, the leaf is bitten across to the midrib. The midrib is nearly (but not quite) severed to cut off the water supply to the lower half of the leaf. The attack then continues on the other side of the midrib. If the leaf is later to be cut completely off and dropped, the cutting continues to the opposite margin of the leaf. If it is to be left hanging on the tree, the cutting is discontinued a short distance past the midrib.”

This is only the first step in the process.  Here is a link to the article and I hope that you will read about the rest of this amazing behavior under the Life Cycle and Behavior section.

http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in753

That’s all for now – but standby for future postings.

I Like Lichens

The Trail contains a never ending variety of lichens.  Look down and you see Raindeer Moss.  If it hasn’t rained in awhile the little balls contract.  Pour some water on them and they will start to puff out.  This type of lichen is a good indicator air pollution so it’s always nice to see them out in force.

Lichen 6

Look up and you will see some light green stringy lichens that hand from the tree like Spanish moss

Light green stringy lichen 5

This is clearly worth a closer look.  If you look really close you will see some cup-shaped lichens clinging to the branch.

Light green stringy lichen 1

And still another lichen with its fuzzy tentacles reaching out.

Light green stringy lichen 4

Here is a branch covered with lichens and supporting a Cardinal Airplant.  It amazed me that such a small a branch could provide so much support.

Cardinal Airplant 2

That’s all for now – but standby for future postings.

Yellow Hog Fungi

And how do I tie that combination together?  Well, let’s start with the yellow.  There are a couple of yellow flowers in bloom.  Smallfruit Beggarticks is found in some of the wetter areas and blooms throughout the year.

Smallfruit Beggarticks 1

Another of the wet area plants is a Primrosewillow.  There are 11 species of Primrosewillow found in the Savannas Preserve areas and only 1 species is non-native.  Of course, the species on the Trail is the non-native Peruvian Primrosewillow but it makes a nice image.

Peruvian Primrosewillow

Lets transition from wet to scrub, from wildflower to shrub, from vibrant yellow to pale yellow.  The flowers on the Hog Plum are in bloom.  The thorny shrub has little flowers with yellow petals that are rolled back and have a multitude of white whiskers sticking out.

Hog Plum

And now for the fungus tie in.  Two blogs ago I had images of the fruit of the Coastalplain Staggarbush.  That bush also serves as a host for a fungus and the fungi on the Coastalplain Staggerbush is particularly colorful.  I used to think that it was a wasp that caused  this gall but I’ve since learned better.

Gall Wasp 2

That’s all for now – but standby for future postings.