Back on the Trail

I haven’t spent much time on the trail lately because George Rogers and I have been working on an on-line plant course.   But more about that later.  First, a few images that caught my eye.  Down at the dock the white mangroves are in flower.

Dock 2

 

Also there was the Saltmarsh Morning-Glory, a vine whose leaves remind me of a bird’s foot.

Saltmarsh Morning-Glory

 

Orchids and Arums were coexisting in some muddy water.

Orchid and Arums

 

 

And one of the tallest Carolina Redroots that I have seen is in flower.

Carolina Redroot 1

 

 

Here’s a closer view of the head because I love the texture of the flowers.  They look like they are coated with cotton.

Carolina Redroot 3

 

 

Now, about the course:

Native Plants of South Florida

An Introductory On-Line Course by George Rogers and John Bradford

Open Enrollment! Any tree hugger can join in!

Free! (except for book purchase)

Register now.  Begins Sept 1 2014

  • 16 habitat-based lessons. View the course at  http://nativeplantclass.weebly.com
  • You’ll need our self-published book: Guide to the Native Plants of Florida’s Treasure Coast.  To see the book, preview the class, open Lesson 1, and click a link to the book vendor. We make no money from the book—any revenue supports our web site.
  • Grab a field trip For each habitat type (most types span multiple lessons) you take a field trip on your own with camera in hand. We list suggested sites in our general area.
  • The class evolved in Palm Beach and Martin Students from anywhere are welcome.
  • There’s a quiz each lesson, and three Non-credit students use these as review exercises.
  • The mission is learning to recognize wild plants. There is no attention to gardening or landscaping (but see the book offered below).

To register or for more information:  John Bradford (cyclura@bellsouth.net) or George Rogers (rogersg515@gmail.com). After Aug. 18: George Rogers 561-207-5052

This on-line class is an open-enrollment public-access derivative of George Rogers’s “Plants of Florida Ecosystems” (ORH2511) taught on-line and in the field at Palm Beach State College in Palm Beach Gardens.  It is possible to take our on-line class for college credit, and it is possible to register for a credit-only field trip version of the class Fall Term 2015, perhaps after taking the free on-line class non-credit now.

Saw Palmettos in Glorious Flower

This blog contains images of nature found in a wonderful part of the Savannas State Preserve known as the Halpatiokee Nature Trails.  I hope that my images show some of the wonders of nature and will entice people to visit the Trail.

Saw Palmettos abound along the Trail.  I love the twists and turns of the stems as they begin their flowering stage.

Saw Palmetto 1

And soon the flowers begin to appear.

Saw Palmetto 2

 

And then the fun begins as they are visited with all manner of insects.  Wasps come to feast.

Wasp on Saw Palmetto Flower

 

A beetle appears and joins in.

Beetle on Saw Palmetto Flower

 

Bees are there in force.

Bee on Saw Palmetto Flower

 

And are then joined by a pair of love bugs.

Bee and Love Bugs on Saw Palmetto Flower

 

It is like having a 3-ring circus right before your eyes.

 

 

 

A New Look for Some Old images

As a photographer I always strive to make my images appear as realistic as possible.  I process my pictures to reflect how the scene, plant, or fungi looked to my eye.  But there are different ways to “look” at things and there is nothing wrong with looking at images using a little more artistic license.

In one of the blogs I follow the author talked about images incorporating the Orton effect. This style of image has a dreamy look where the lights in the image were even brighter and the focus was a little softer.  The effect is  named after Michael Orton the photographer who popularized it.

Here is the original view of the Climbing Aster

Climbing Aster 2

 

 

And here is the view with the Orton effect

Climbing Aster 1

The intent is to give some subtle and pleasing changes not create a radically different image.

 

Here is the original of the Green Arrow Arum

Green Arrow Arum 1

 

And here is the view with the Orton effect

Green Arrow Arum Orton 2

 

Do you like the Orton look?

I like the effect.  That is not to say I’m going to use this on all my images but I did want to try it on a few more.  So I did and then put them into a slide show.  As side shows always seemed to be helped with music, I used a tune by one of my favorite Florida folk singers who embraces environmental causes.  Dale Crider wrote and sings this song about Marjorie Stoneman Douglas and her battle to save the Everglades.

Here is the link to slideshow.  I hope you will enjoy the images and the song.

Images Seen on a Trail to the River

Wax Myrtle Fruit and Other Things That Caught My Eye

I noticed that a stalk of the Cinnamon Fern had taken a sharp turn upward.  Had someone bent it and the plant kept growing or had the fern suddenly decided to grow vertically rather than horizontally?

Cinnamon Fern

Fruit is starting to appear on the Wax Myrtle branches

Wax Myrtle 1

 

A closer look at the fruit clearly shows the waxy covering

Wax Myrtle  2

 

Spotted some Feay’s Palafox and took a shot from a different perspective.

Feay's Palafox

 

As I walked down the side trail I encountered a tree just covered with Turkey Tails.  The Tails at the base of the tree were wide and large.

Turkey Tails 1

 

The tails further up the trunk were smaller and thinner.

Turkey Tails 2

 

This part of the trail has a nice inviting bench.  So I rested my camera bag and took a shot.

Trail 10

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.

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.

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.