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July 21st, 2018


There are many interesting spiders that can be seen in Florida. I will show you a few of them and their webs.

One of the largest and very common spider is the golden-silk spider. This member of the orb-weavers family is also often called banana spider. My photograph of a golden-silk spider hanging below her web won honorable mention in the Advanced category of Orange Audubon Society's 2015 Chertok Nature Photography contest.

View online purchase options for Golden-Silk Spider by Paul Rebmann

The male golden-silk spiders are much smaller than the females, as can be seen in several of the photographs on the Nephila clavipes page at Wild Florida Photo.

The spiny orb-weaver is a much smaller but very distinctive spider. Also known as the crab spider or spinybacked orbweaver spider, this is also a fairly common spider, especially in Florida citrus groves. The range of Gasteracantha cancriformis extends across the southern United States, through Central and much of South America. This species may have different markings in other parts of it's range than that shown here, which is how they look in Florida.

View online purchase options for Spiny Orb Weaver by Paul Rebmann

Unlike most of the other orbweavers, the Orchard Orbweaver spins its web on a horizontal or only slightly tilted plane.
This small spider, also called the Venusta orchard spider, hangs below the center of the web which can often be seen off to the side of trails.

View online purchase options for Orchard Orbweaver #2 by Paul Rebmann

Last month's blog post included a crab spider on rayless sunflower. This is one of the Mecaphesa species in the crab spider family. These are also called flower spiders because instead of building webs to catch prey, they lie in wait, often well camouflaged, and catch insects that come to visit the flower. The flower spider on horsemint below is another example. This spider had caught a small bee soon after this photo was made.

View online purchase options for Flower Spider on Horsemint #1 by Paul Rebmann

The image at the top of this post is a black and yellow Argiope. Also called the writing spider for the distinctive zig-zag pattern on the web. These patterns are called stabilimentum and the immature spiders of this species make a circular one as shown below. The purpose of the stabilimentum is debated by experts. Although the name might indicate that it stabilizes the web this is not currently considered the primary function. A number of theories include: camouflage for the spider, attracting prey, attracting a mate, molting platform, sun protection, and silk production practice.

View online purchase options for Black and Yellow in White and Black by Paul Rebmann

Most spiders are relatively harmless to humans, at most inflicting a painful bite. In Florida only widow and recluse spiders are venomous.
You can read more about them at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services website.

Spiders are part of nature's insect control, so not only are they pretty to look at, they can be beneficial to have around. These are only a few of the many kinds of spiders, some more that occur in Florida can be seen at Wild Florida Photo.

Paul Rebmann
June 30, 2015

Florida Orchids

July 21st, 2018

Florida Orchids

Florida is home to over a hundred orchid species, making up about half of the orchids found in North America.
Many may think of orchids as being a tropical plant, but orchids are one of the most diverse plant families and can be found almost anywhere on the planet.
I have been pleasantly surprised to come across orchids in both Michigan's upper peninsula and in Oregon's Mt. Hood National Forest.

Grasspink #1 by Paul Rebmann

People for centuries have had a particular fascination with orchids, with explorers traveling the world collecting new species for orchid fanciers to cultivate in their gardens and greenhouses.
This obsession, as characterized by the phrase "orchids put the cult in horticulture", has been observed and described in various books and other writings over the years.
One of the more widely known of these is Susan Orleans' "The Orchid Thief".
"The Scent of Scandal", a more recent book by Craig Pittman is not only an entertaining true story of Florida orchid mania, it is also an informative bibliography on the subject of orchids.

Grasspink #2 by Paul Rebmann

My appreciation of orchids is focused on finding and photographing the many native species that are found in Florida and elsewhere.
This quest has taken me into various natural and often inhospitable habitats around the state, both on my own, and on field trips with knowledgeable orchid experts.
I have been on several field trips lead by Paul Martin Brown, author of "Wild Orchids of Florida" and other orchid guides and publications.
On one of these outings, Paul made a statement typical of orchid enthusiasts, "there are two kinds of plants in the world, orchids and not orchids".
Thanks to Paul Martin Brown I have seen several orchids that I might not have found otherwise, including woodland ladiestresses, green addersmouth orchid and a new species that he just described about 8 years ago, Potts' plume orchid.

Purchase Potts

I have also had the pleasure of meeting Mike Owen, state biologist at Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park, on several occasions.
One of these was a Florida Native Plant Society field trip that he led, but the first time I met him was on my first of several visits to the Fakahatchee.
He stopped and talked to me as I was getting organized at my car in a parking area along Janes Scenic Drive.
Mike was very friendly and helpful in suggesting where I might want to go to look for interesting things to photograph.
In retrospect, he might have been also checking me out to ease his mind that I was not a poacher, as I could very easily appeared as such at first glance.

Purchase Green Addersmouth Orchid by Paul Rebmann

The Fakahatchee is a very different place depending upon what time of year it is.
In late spring, at the end of the dry season, it is a fairly easy place to explore.
A person can walk down any of the old logging tram paths and off into the low areas with only a few puddles here and there and if your timing is good, very few bugs.
By mid summer, the water is up and the mosquitoes are in full blood-sucking force.
In mid winter, the mosquitoes are often gone, but the water is deep.
Getting to the pretty plants involves carefully wading through waist deep water as I did with Daniel Reed one December during some of south Florida's coldest weather on record.
The orchid highlights of that adventure were the night-scented and the clamshell.
A misstep from catching my boot on a submerged log resulted in my film camera getting dipped into the swamp.
The camera continued to work the remainder of that outing, but it soon died and I was unable to revive it as I had after it's dunking in the Apalachicola Forest's Bradwell Bay several years earlier.
This development resulted in my migrating to digital photography.

Purchase Clamshell Orchid by Paul Rebmann

Although I have seen and photographed many things in the Fakahatchee, the magnificent flower of the ghost orchid has eluded me there.
I have seen young not-yet-blooming plants in the strand, simply a few green threads of orchid roots on a tree.
The only flowers I have seen were on the plant in the Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.
This was only fairly recently discovered by a birder looking for owls after the devastating 2004 Florida hurricane season apparently cleared the view from the boardwalk to a ghost orchid plant high on a tree.
You can see my ghost orchid photos at Wild Florida Photo.

Purchase Lady Orchid #1 by Paul Rebmann

Not all of Florida's orchids are epiphytes, plants that grow on trees instead of the soil.
With the exception of the greenfly and Tampa butterfly orchids, most of those outside of tropical south Florida are terrestrial plants.
These include the leafless beaked lady orchid - Sacoila lanceolata - that can sometimes be found in highway right-of-ways.
The many species of ladiestresses are mostly terrestrial, with fragrant, or marsh, ladiestresses - Spiranthes odorata - being semi-aquatic, often growing in seasonally flooded areas.
The waterspider false reinorchid - Habenaria repens - is one of the few truly aquatic orchids, found along open shorelines, ditches and stagnant pools.

Purchase Fragrant Ladiestresses by Paul Rebmann

Orchid hunting, in my case with a camera, can be a challenging and rewarding experience, taking a person into places they might not otherwise go and also experiencing many other interesting and beautiful aspects of our wild natural world.

The orchid photographs above can be purchased online by clicking on the desired image, and you can see all 33 of the Florida orchids that I have photographed so far at the Wild Florida Photo Orchidaceae page.

Paul Rebmann
April 30, 2015

Kayak Photography

July 21st, 2018

Kayak Photography

My 'on the water' photography has increased greatly the past 4 years since purchasing a sea touring kayak that I found on Craig's List. Prior to this most of my paddling had been in a canoe. I acquired the kayak to allow me to go out on solo photography paddles and also for extended kayak camping with my friend Daniel Reed from Tennessee.

Kayaking is a great way to see natural Florida and its flora and fauna. The low 'near the water' position provides a great angle for photography and that low profile along with the relative quietness of a kayak, allows sighting of even more wildlife than in most other boats, even canoes. I have seen more green herons since I started kayaking than I had previously, like this pair along the Tomoka River.

Purchase Green Heron Pair by Paul Rebmann

Most of my kayaking has been solo, which allows me to stop and spend whatever time I want photographing various scenes and subjects. On one paddle last year I met another solo kayaker on Blackwater Creek who I only knew from reading his Dave's Yak Tales blog.
I have participated in several kayak camping trips with Daniel & other friends, plus field trips like this one on the Silver River with groups such as Florida Native Plant Society or day trips with an informal group of paddlers known as the River Runners. The string lily image below was made on a lower Ocklawaha River paddle with the River Runners.

Purchase String Lily #1 by Paul Rebmann

In Florida almost any body of water with access is paddle-able, although some are more scenic than others. The natural parts of the Ocklawaha River are particularly nice, as is the Silver River that flows from Silver Springs to the Ocklawaha. The Suwannee River is great for kayak or canoe camping trips from 1 or 2 nights to a week or more. For more information check out the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail.

Purchase Suwannee River Sand Water Rock by Paul Rebmann

For the more adventurous, there is the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail, which Daniel and I kayaked for a week from Big Lagoon State Park near Pensacola to Henderson Beach State Park near Destin.

Water - especially salt water - and cameras do not mix. I killed my previous camera in the keys when the cockpit filled with water while snorkeling in choppy waters near Big Pine Key. The dry bag I was using did not remain dry inside. I learned a hard lesson that dry bags are not created equal. It is important to use a good waterproof bag that is easy to open and close, such as the one I now have, a Sagebrush Dry Hip & Deck Pack. My current camera survived a dunking in the gulf of Mexico thanks to that bag which simply floated, tethered to the overturned kayak in the over six foot waves.

The Scarlet Hibiscus below was photographed along Spring Garden Creek, between DeLeon Springs State Park and Lake Woodruff.

Purchase Scarlet Hibiscus #4 by Paul Rebmann

The Cooter on Alligator Log image was made on Snake Creek near Hontoon Island State Park.

Paul Rebmann
Nov 20, 2014

Butterflies and Brown Velvet

July 21st, 2018

Butterflies and Brown Velvet

After my April 8 tweet '7 years ago today' of a Carolina satyr butterfly -
view original tweet Dr. Andrew Warren (@AndyBugGuy) of the University of Florida McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity contacted me asking if I had more photos of that butterfly since he wanted to see if any of them might be a newly described similar species. It turned out that I had taken a number of photos on several occasions and at different locations that I had identified as Carolina satyr. Two of these butterflies were actually the 'new' intricate satyr butterfly. The photo that I tweeted was a Carolina satyr. The butterfly had its wings spread and the photograph shows one of the differentiating characteristics between the two species. Intricate satyrs lack a darker area towards the base of the forewings that is shown in my photo of the Carolina Satyr titled "Brown Velvet". This photo will appear in an article about these butterflies in the June issue of the News of the Lepidoperists' Society.

Paul Rebmann
May 7, 2014

...Years Ago Today

July 21st, 2018

...Years Ago Today

Since we are over a quarter of the way through 2014, I thought I would explain my "...years ago today" tweets. Since the beginning of 2014 almost every day I have posted on a photo that was taken on that date sometime in the previous fifteen years. In the first three months there were only six dates that I had not taken photos on.

In most cases I already had a photo posted on my Wild Florida Photo ( website, but there have been a number of times that I have had to pull a previously unused image from my archives to represent that date. An example of one of these is Sunset Pines.

Click here to view online print purchase options for this image.

This is an image that I made from the primitive campsites at Highlands Hammock State Park where I camped following a Florida Native Plant Society board meeting held at Archbold Biological Station.

In addition to showcasing the variety of my images, I have found this "..years ago today" exercise helpful in several aspects. For one thing, the daily deadline is forcing me to regularly review and process photos. This review has resulted in finding images that I had forgotten about and making me prepare others that I just never got around to doing anything with.

Some of other the images I have used on my website, or previously printed for sale at art shows and other events, I have now reprocessed with a more seasoned eye, resulting in what I feel are better images. After all, even Ansel Adams completely changed the look of some of his famous images, such as his iconic 1927 Monolith - The Face of Half Dome, which later in his career he printed in the high contrast style that most people think of when they hear his name.

With almost nine more months in this year, there are lots of photos, from 35mm film & slides, digital snapshot and three different digital SLRs, with even a few iPhone images to present to you. If you are not already doing so, follow me on @WildFlPhoto to see each day's photo.

Paul Rebmann
Apr. 8, 2014

Schaus' Swallowtail

June 18th, 2018


A very wet native plant field trip this May resulted in my seeing two butterflies that were new to me, including the rare Schaus' swallowtail. This trip to Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park was one of many activities during the Florida Native Plant Society annual state conference.
Myself and two other attendees braved the early start of this year's rainy season to visit an area not open to the public. Our leader was Janice Duquesnei, Florida State Parks keys biologist.

Schaus' swallowtail is a rare and endangered butterfly is now only found on a couple of the upper Florida keys and in a few small sites nearby on the mainland. It has the distinction of being one of the first insects given federal protection, being listed as threatened in 1976, then as endangered in 1984.
Heraclides aristodemus ponceanus is a butterfly of tropical hardwood hammocks, historically from the greater Miami area to Lower Matecumbe Key and is one of the subspecies of the Island Swallowtail found throughout the West Indies.

These rare butterflies are similar to the closely related giant swallowtail, but the 'tails' of the Schaus' swallowtail have a yellow margin instead of a yellow spot. Sexes are similar to each other except that the males have yellow-tipped antennae and the females dark-tipped antennae. This species' common name is in honor of US entomologist & botanist William Schaus (1858-1942) who is known primarily for his contributions to the knowledge of Neotropical Lepidoptera (butterflies & moths).

The primary larval host plants of the Schaus' swallowtail are two members of the citrus family, sea torchwood and wild lime. For the past several years there have been habitat restoration projects in Biscayne National Park to remove invasive plants and replace them with torchwood and wild lime. In conjunction with these mostly volunteer projects, classroom curriculum has been created for Miami area schools to educate about Schaus' swallowtail and some of the other rare and endangered species and the importance of habitat in their survival. This curriculum included the creation of school gardens with host plants. You can read more about these projects at The Schaus Swallowtail Habitat Enhancement Project.

Sea torchwood is an occasional shrub or small tree of hammocks along the Florida east coast from Flagler County into the Keys. The range extends through the Caribbean including the Bahamas, Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. It is also found in Mexico and Belize.
Amyris elemifera is an evergreen with light brown bark growing up to about sixteen feet tall. The drooping leaves are opposite and compound with three to five leaflets. Leaflets are petiolate, ovate-lanceolate, one to three inches long with glandular dots on the top surface and pointed tips. The tiny white flowers are in branching clusters and the fruit is a small purple to black ovoid drupe with glandular dots that is less than a half inch long.
The species name is derived from the term elemi, referring to a fragrant resin used in essential oils and varnishes. The Mexican variety of elemi is made from torchwood, other parts of the world use different trees to make their elemi. Amyris elemifera is also the larval host plant for the Bahamian swallowtail.

Wild lime is a frequent evergreen shrub or small tree of hammocks in the central and south Florida peninsula and the Keys. The range includes Texas, the West Indies and Mexico.
One of the most distinguishing traits of wild lime is the winged rachis on the alternate compound leaves. There are seven to nine small leaflets that are each less than one and a quarter inches long and less than three-quarters inches wide with crenate margins on at least the upper half of the leaflet. The yellow-green flowers are very small and appear in the spring. The fruit is a shiny black seed in a brownish husk. Zanthoxylum fagara is also a larval host plant for the giant swallowtail.

The other butterfly seen on that field trip new to me was the Julia butterfly. Dryas iulia var. largo is one of Florida's longwing butterlfies along with the gulf fritillary and the state butterfly, zebra longwing.

Paul Rebmann
June 18, 2018

Sweet Acacia

May 2nd, 2018

Sweet Acacia

Sweet acacia is a native shrub to small tree of the southern-most band of states from Florida and Georgia west into California. It is closely related to the iconic trees of the African savanna landscapes, including the umbrella thorn acacia.

For a while we had an acacia tree in our yard that after a very slow start had grown from a seedling to about ten feet tall. However it did not survive being relocated to make way for a new septic system.

Until recent reclassifications Acacia was the largest genera in the pea family with about 1500 species worldwide. The greatest number of species – roughly 900 - occur in Australia, and those native to that continent are the ones that retained the genus name Acacia. Most of the Florida natives were moved to the genus Vachellia, including sweet acacia, which changed from Acacia farnesiana to Vachellia farnesiana farnesiana. Many of the African native acacias are now Vachellia or Sengalia.

In Florida sweet acacias are mostly found on shell middens, coastal hammocks, pinelands and disturbed sites, more frequently in the southern peninsula. They are usually eight to 20 feet tall and the many branching trunks can make them six to ten feet wide.

Sweet Acacia zig-zags and thorns

The zig-zag branches have whitish thorns that are actually spinescent stipules. Stipules are pairs of appendages that are at the base of many leaf stems, but are more frequently very small and leaf-like.

Sweet Acacia leaves

The alternate leaves are bipinnately compound with each leaf divided into two to six pairs of pinnae, each of which has ten to 25 pairs of tiny linear leaflets. This gives the plant an appearance similar to a mimosa and in fact Carl Linnaeus first classified sweet acacia as Mimosa farnesiana in 1753.

Sweet Acacia inflorescence

Flowers are a globular cluster of yellow stamens 3/8 - 1/2 inch in diameter appearing at the end of not quite inch long stalks.

Sweet Acacia stamens close-up

Acacia is derived from the Greek word akis, meaning a point or barb. Vachellia is named in honor of George Harvey Vachell (1789-1839) who collected plants in China while there serving as a chaplain to the British East India Company. The specific name farnesiana is in honor of Italian Odoardo Farnese (1573–1626) whose family maintained a private botanical garden in Rome and imported these trees from the Caribbean. Sweet acacia was used to make perfume and is still grown in southern France for that purpose.

Sweet acacia is a larval host plant for the Ammon blue (Cyclargus ammon) and nickerbean blue - also known as the acacia blue - (Hemiargus ammon) butterflies, the latter now only known to occur on Big Pine Key. It is also a nectar food plant for red-banded hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops) butterfly.

Paul Rebmann
May 2, 2018

Soras, Rails, Coots and Gallinules

March 15th, 2018

Soras, Rails, Coots and Gallinules

One of the more frequently seen rails is the sora. These small, thin, chicken-like birds inhabit both freshwater and brackish marshes and other wet places throughout Florida in the winter. The winter range also extends along the coast of the southern half of the United States, the Caribbean and all of Mexico. Soras migrate at night to breeding areas in the northern half of the United States and much of Canada.


Soras have a thick, somewhat conical, stubby yellow bill and are mostly gray and brown with white edged feathers and greenish-yellow legs. The adults have a black face mask, that is paler in females and absent in juveniles. Soras (Porzana carolina) are also called Carolina Rails.

You have probably heard the phase 'thin as a rail', that comes from the shape of rails as can be seen in the photo of the sora below. This slenderness facilitates their movement between the marsh vegetation, such as reeds, mangrove trunks and pneumatophores, or other plants.


Another rail found in mangrove swamps and saltwater marshes of Florida, but more likely to be heard than seen is the clapper rail. They are larger than most other rails with a long slightly curved bill. Most of the body is mottled with the throat and belly smooth and drab. Birds along the Gulf Coast have some cinnamon coloring, especially on the belly while along the Atlantic coast birds tend to be grayer. They range along the east coast of the United States, Mexico and Central America plus the Caribbean.

Clapper Rail

The clapper rail is one of two large rails found in Florida, the other being the king rail of freshwater marshes, although these species may sometimes overlap in brackish marshes. Until 2014 clapper rails were considered to be a subspecies of Rallus longirostris but now named as a separate secies Rallus crepitans. Rallus longirostris is now the mangrove rail of South America. The western subspecies of California, Arizona, Nevada and the western coast of Mexico is now Ridgeway's rail, Rallus obsoletus. This new species is named for ornithologist and artist Robert Ridgeway who first described the California rail subspecies. Ridgeway worked at the United States National Museum (Smithsonian) where he served as Curator of Birds from 1869 to 1929.


Other members of the Rallidae family include coots and galliules, or moorhens. Coots are a small, dark duck-like bird lacking webbed feet with a conical bill similar to the gallinules and moorhens. The bills are white with a black band near the tip. They have red eyes and a deep red patch on the forehead, usually only noticeable at close range and/or good light. Coots (Fulica_americana) have a white stripe near their tail.


Coots are a common bird of freshwater wetlands year-round throughout much of the Florida peninsula and the panhandle in the winter. The range includes most of the United States, year-round or winter in the southern states, extending into the midwest and Canada during the summer.

Common Gallinules

Very similar to coots are the common gallinules. Also known as the Florida gallinule and until recently was more frequently called the common moorhen. Differentiated from coots by the white side body stripe, bright red faceplate and the 'candy corn' red beak with a light tip.

Common Gallinule

Gallinules have large feet for their size which allows them to walk on top of floating vegetation. Gallinula chloropus is a common bird of freshwater and brackish marshes, ponds, lakes and canals year-round throughout all of Florida. The year-round range includes much of Mexico and the southeastern gulf coast up into North Carolina. Also isolated areas of the southwestern United States. Migration and breeding in much of the eastern United States up to the southern Great Lakes.

Purple Gallinule

Less frequently seen is the purple gallinule. Porphyrio martinica is a tropical marsh bird that is a year-round resident of peninsular Florida, Brazil, northern areas of South America, and parts of Mexico. The summer range expands along the southeast United States coast from South Carolina to Mississippi, most of Louisiana and eastern Texas. Purple gallinules winter throughout much of Central America.

Purple Gallinule

Purple gallinules have a dark purple head, neck and underside and a green back. The relatively large feet and long toes allow this bird to walk on top of lily pads and other water vegetation. They have a mostly red beak with a light tip and a blue face shield above the beak.

These five birds are half of the Rallidae family occurring in North America, the other five all rails. Those are the yellow rail, black rail, Ridgeway's rail, king rail and Virginia rail.

Paul Rebmann
March 15, 2018

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly

January 31st, 2018

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly

One of the more common butterflies seen in Florida is the gulf fritillary. This is one of the longwing butterflies (Heliconiini tribe), a subgroup of the brush-footed butterfly family (Nymphalidae). Other longwings found in Florida include the state butterfly the zebra longwing and the Julia butterfly, found only in the southern part of the state.

View online purchase options for Gulf Fritillary on Elephantsfoot #2 by Paul Rebmann

The adult butterfly is mostly brownish-orange with black markings on the upperside. There are three white spots surrounded by black near the leading edge of the forewing from about the midpoint towards the base.

View online purchase options for Gulf Fritillary on Elephantsfoot by Paul Rebmann

The undersides of the wings are lighter, with the hindwings and tips of the forewings covered with silvery spots. Females are larger and paler than the males.

View online purchase options for Purple Passionflower #2 by Paul Rebmann

All of the longwings utilize passionflower vines exclusively for caterpillar host plants. There are about a dozen species of Passiflora found in Florida, half of them native. One of the most common is the Purple Passionflower, Passiflora incarnata.

View online purchase options for Gulf Fritillary on White Passionflower by Paul Rebmann

This gulf fritillary butterfly is nectaring on a white passionflower, a naturally occurring white form of Passiflora incarnata. The adult butterflies will feed on a variety of wildflowers, such as the tall elephantsfoot (Elephantopus elatus) in the photos above, the pollinator popular Spanish needles (Bidens alba), and many others.

The caterpillar is orange with rows of black spines. A patch of corkystem passionflower in our yard has become a little gulf fritillary nursery the past few years.
At the end of the larval stage, the caterpillar will attach the tail end somewhere, typically the stem of a passionflower vine, and begin the metamorphosis into the pupal stage forming a chrysalis.

The series of photos above shows: (1) the caterpillar just forming into the chrysalis, (2) a typical chrysalis during most of the about 11 day pupal stage and (3) about an hour before the butterfly emerged.

This video clip made from a series of photographs shows the newly emerged butterfly hanging on the exuvia (empty shell of the chrysalis) and performing the necessary unrolling and rolling of the proboscis to form the two halves together.

A gulf fritillary butterfly nectaring on Feay's Prairieclover. Note that it appears that the butterfly only has four legs. The two front legs are greatly reduced and held up against the body. They are covered with hairs, giving them the family name brush-footed butterflies, that act as sensory organs.

For more information about and photographs of gulf fritillaries, visit Wild Florida Photo.

Paul Rebmann
January 31, 2018


December 5th, 2017


Exploring nature can be fun and full of surprises, such as discovering one of the many varieties of mushrooms that are often found in the woods. The huge mushroom pictured at the top of this post was about a foot and a half across. and is called a Berkeley's Polypore. Virginia & I spotted it a couple of years ago along a May Prairie State Natural Area trail less than two miles from where I grew up in Manchester, Tennessee. This species is also called Stump Blossoms as they are often found at or near the base of hardwood trees.

The Mushroom in the Woods above was photographed near the trail on the lower portion of Jackrabbit Mountain in the Nantahala National Forest of North Carolina. This is possibly a Two-colored Bolete mushroom - Boletus bicolor - or more likely the similar Boletus pseudosensibilis. These are usually found from late June through October on the ground in oak woods throughout much of eastern North America.

This Goldstalk mushroom was photographed in the woods along the shore of Lake Chatuge in the Jackrabbit Mountain campground. Goldstalk mushrooms are found in eastern North America from Quebec to Florida, under oaks and other hardwoods. They are also called ornate-stalked bolete for the reticulate stem.

Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of fungi that grow mostly underground. When the time is right, often after rains, the fungi send up the structure that develops and eventually releases the tiny spores that will spread and grow new fungi. These spore dispersal devices can take many forms, the more familiar being the typical 'toadstools' with gills or pores in the undersides of the caps. Another form includes puffballs like the Barometer Earthstar pictured above that release their spores when disturbed by animals or raindrops. There are other various shapes that exude odors that attract insects to spread their spores, such as in the stinkhorn family.

These aromatic mushrooms are often smelled before being seen. I have come across the Columned Stinkhorn on a number of occasions. These fungi have two to five reddish sponge-like columns growing from a white egg in the ground, the remnants of which can often be seen still attached around the base of the columns. These columns are fused at the top, forming a roof over the dark glebra, or spore mass, the source of the insect-attracting fetid odor.

Some of the smallest fungi I have come across are the Fluted Bird's Nests that I saw for the first time this year. They were growing out of the mulch in a residential yard in Lake Helen near where we evacuated during hurricane Irma. And last year as I was leaving town for the hurricane Matthew evacuation, was the first time that I ever saw a fairy ring.

A Fairy ring forms when a fungus growing underground sends up the fruiting bodies along its perimeter creating a circle of mushrooms. The particular species that I probably saw is frequently found in lawns or on golf courses, and the grass above the fungus is often a different shade than the surrounding vegetation. At least one of these common fairy rings is highly toxic and known as the vomiting mushroom.

These orange mushrooms grow in clusters on dead wood, either exposed or in the ground, appearing mostly in the fall in wooded areas east of the Rocky Mountains. The gills attach down the stem. Jack O'lantern mushrooms are reported to glow in the dark, with a faint greenish-blue light emanating from the gills beneath the cap.

For more information and images of these fungi and see all of the mushrooms posted at Wild Florida Photo, visit

Paul Rebmann
December 5, 2017


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