Blog

Displaying: 1 - 10 of 33

  |  

Show All

  |

[1]

2 3 4 Next

Mushrooms

December 5th, 2017

Mushrooms

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 http://www.wildflphoto.com/fungi.

Paul Rebmann
December 5, 2017

Total Solar Eclipse of 2017

October 9th, 2017

Total Solar Eclipse of 2017

On August 21, 2017 a unique opportunity occurred for a vast number of North Americans to witness a total solar eclipse. The last total solar eclipse visible in North America was in 1991 when the path of totality passed over Mexico and before that in 1979 when the path traversed the northwestern United States and central Canada. The last time a total eclipse came through the southeastern US was in 1970. I had seen a partial solar eclipse shortly after I moved to Florida, probably the annular eclipse of May 30, 1984. Earlier this year Virginia said that we should go somewhere to see totality since Florida would only witness a partial eclipse and we made plans to do so.

Once we had decided to go, I knew that I would regret it if I did not at least try and get some photographs of this infrequent celestial event. In addition to our viewing glasses I obtained some solar filters for both my longest telephoto camera lens and small telescope. After originally intending to just go to South Carolina - the closest the path of totality came to Florida - we ended up in Clarksville, Tennessee.

View online purchase options for 2017 Solar Eclipse Series by Paul Rebmann

This image is a compilation of photographs made during the progress of the eclipse. Starting with the full sun about 25 minutes before the eclipse began, the series progresses through the increased occultation of the sun by the moon until finally reaching totality. The first image - showing the eclipse just starting with a tiny sliver missing from the sun - was taken an hour and 26 minutes before the last image which shows the corona during totality. Where we were totality lasted almost two and a half minutes, which was very nearly the maximum length of the eclipse anywhere along the path.

View online purchase options for Totality 2017 by Paul Rebmann

During totality we could see Venus, and several of my photographs showed Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation Leo, to the left of the sun.

View online purchase options for Eclipse Totality And Regulus by Paul Rebmann

One of the surprises in my photographs, and something that we did not notice during the event, were the solar flares that could be seen during totality.

View online purchase options for Total Eclipse Solar Flares by Paul Rebmann

Yes, the temperatures did drop, from miserably hot before the eclipse started to a much cooler fairly comfortable from a bit before to a little while after totality. As the eclipse progressed the light in the sky took on an odd cast reminiscent of the yellow sky after a severe late afternoon thunderstorm, having a similar visage although not the same color.

For those that did not experience totality, the next opportunity in North America will be in April of 2024. Parts of South America will be in the path of totality during eclipses coming up in 2019 & 2020 and in December 2021 a total eclipse with be visible along some of the coast of Antarctica.

Paul Rebmann
October 8, 2017

Life Cycle of the Spiderling Plume Moth

October 7th, 2017

Life Cycle of the Spiderling Plume Moth

The last week of July found me on most mornings observing and photographing the many spiderling plume moths that were flying around and perching on a patch of red spiderling plants in our yard. It was a fitting coincidence that this was also National Moth Week.

View online purchase options for Spiderling Plume Moth on Wineflower by Paul Rebmann

I had first seen and identified one of these moths four summers ago while photographing red spiderling plants, which are also called wineflower. The odd-looking thin sprawling plants that periodically appeared in the yard around the house are Boerhavia diffusa, a fact that I learned reading a Treasure Coast Natives blog post. Red spiderling is a member of the four o'clock family (Nyctaginaceae) of plants and closely related to bougainvillea, which has similar-looking but much larger flowers.

View online purchase options for Bougainvillea by Paul Rebmann

My moth week observations of these tiny plume moths – they have a wingspan of about a half inch – included all four main life cycle stages: eggs, larvae (caterpillar), pupa and adult.

Spiderling plume moths are tiny, with a wingspan of from an half to three-quarters of an inch. In flight they look like little tufts of down floating around in the air. At rest, they exhibit the classic plume moth 'T' shape of each wing bunched together and held perpendicular to the body. The wings are deeply divided, the forewings into two lobes and the hindwings three. A fringe of threadlike scales give the appearance of the wings being feathered, hence the name 'plume'. The legs have perpendicular thorns, most apparent on the long hind legs held along each side of the abdomen when at rest.



Published observations of these and related species recorded that eggs are laid on the tips of branches near the fruit. I saw eggs in this location and also on the bottom of one leaf. The caterpillars feed mostly on the unripe fruit of spiderling, but also on many plants in the four o'clock plant family. In south Florida the larvae will feed on the leaves of the rare Okenia hypogaea known as beach peanut.



Megalorhipida leucodactylus do not build cocoons, they simply pupate attached to the host plant and leave the cast skin of the larval stage (the exuvia) attached along the stem at the base of the pupa, which is about a third of an inch long.



In Florida spiderling plume moths have multiple broods throughout the year, but are mostly seen July though January.



Paul Rebmann
August 28, 2017

Sources of information about spiderling plume moths include :

bugguide.net

The Spiderling Plume Moth Megalorphida Leucodactylus (Fabricius) (Pterophoridae) in Florida and Texas by D. L. Matthews published in the Southern Lepidopterists' News Vol. 30 No. 4 (2008)

Observations of plume moths on North Andros Island, Bahamas, and notes on new records and species previously recorded from the Bahamas (Lepidoperta: Pterophoridae) Deborah L. Matthews, Jacqueline Y. Miller, Mark J. Simon, Gary Goss published in Insecta Mundi (6-15-2012)

Wildflowers and Pollinators

June 11th, 2017

Wildflowers and Pollinators

Recent declines in monarch butterfly migrations and problems with honey bee populations, particularly colony collapse disorder, have raised awareness about the importance of these and other pollinators. One week each June is designated National Pollinator Week, and this year it is June 19-25. National Pollinator Week was initiated and is managed by the Pollinator Partnership, which promotes events around the country. During one of these events I will be presenting a visual program of 'Wildflowers and Pollinators' at Tomoka State Park in Ormond Beach on Sat. June 17. Here are just a few of the images and subjects that will be included in that program.

View online purchase options fro Bee Fly on Roseling by Paul Rebmann

Many pollinators visit wildflowers to feed on the nectar, and indirectly spread the pollen from flower to flower and assisting in the plant's reproductive cycle. Some insects actually feed on pollen, as in the case of the female Poecilognathus Bee Fly seen here in the photo above and the video below on Florida Scrub Roseling, a member of the Spiderwort family of plants that these bee imitators favor.




View online purchase options for Green Metallic Bee by Paul Rebmann

Green metallic bees are very common in Florida and their opalescent green bodies can often be seen on and around many wildflowers. Here one is seen flying in front of some Coreopsis flowers, which are the official Florida state wildflower.

View online purchase options for Monarch on Asters by Paul Rebmann

Monarch butterflies make a remarkable multi-generational migration from much of the United States and southern Canada to Mexico and back. Some of these migrants pass through Florida, and some of those stay, particularly in South Florida to breed year-round. Monarchs require native milkweeds as host plants for the larval stage caterpillars, but the adults feed on the nectar of many wildlfowers. Above a monarch butterfly is seen on asters and below on another favorite of many pollinators, spotted beebalm, or horsemint.

Purchase Monarch on Spotted Beebalm by Paul Rebmann

The palamedes swallowtail is another butterfly with some interesting relationships. The palamedes is a primary pollinator of the Pine Lily, also known as Catesby's Lily. The primary host plants of this butterfly are red bay and swamp bay, trees that are currently threatened by Laurel wilt, a deadly disease spread by the invasive redbay ambrosia beetle. There is concern that the massive bay die-offs as a result of Laurel Wilt will affect the palamedes butterfly populations, and in turn, pine lily reproduction.

View online purchase options for Palamedes Swallowtail and Friends by Paul Rebmann

Thistle is another wildflower that is popular with many insects that serve as pollinators, as can be seen in these photographs. Above a palamedes swallowtail is seen on thistle with various other insects. Below a female black swallowtail butterfly feeds on purple thistle flowers with a gulf fritillary butterfly in the background and a pollen-laden blue metallic bee approaching.

View online purchase options for Thistle Pollinators - Large and Small by Paul Rebmann

Another wildflower visited by many pollinators, and an excellent landscaping choice for people wanting to attract this kind of wildlife, is Bidens alba, commonly called beggarticks or Spanish needles. Here we see a couple of the Florida state butterflies – Zebra longwings – with a Bidens alba flower.

View online purchase options for Zebra Longwings by Paul Rebmann

For more images like these and links to more information on these wildflowers and pollinators, visit the pollinators page at Wild Florida Photo.

Paul Rebmann
June 9, 2017

Life on the Dunes

May 2nd, 2017

Life on the Dunes

For the past several years Virginia and I have had marsh rabbits living in our 'front yard'. I was surprised to learn that they will inhabit the beach dunes since I had usually seen them in proximity to the intercoastal waterway.

View online purchase options for Marsh Rabbit on Dune by Paul Rebmann

Marsh rabbits can be found near freshwater marshes and estuarine areas throughout much of Florida with the range extending from the panhandle up the coastal plain into Virginia. Primarily nocturnal, they can often be seen foraging in the morning or early evening. The tails are smaller than cottontails and dark on the bottom. Also the ears are shorter and rounder on marsh rabbits.

Just the other day I discovered that they apparently like seaside goldenrod sprouts, as one of the patches in the yard was neatly trimmed at about two inches tall. A few days after hurricane Matthew passed by, we were pleased to see bunny tracks on the now flattened dune area proving that the marsh rabbits had survived the storm surge that had inundated the area were they are usually seen.

View online purchase options for Marsh Rabbit and Sea Grape by Paul Rebmann

Spring has brought a resurgence on the dunes, which through the winter mostly only had vegetation that I planted since the hurricane. The searocket has sprouted in dense patches from seeds buried in the sand or caught in the storm wrack that I had placed on the beach to catch the blowing sand in an attempt at beach rebuilding. The seaweed in the wrack also makes an excellent fertilizer for the searocket, a plant uniquely adapted to living in a dynamic environment.

View online purchase options for Searocket by Paul Rebmann

The name refers to the rocket-shaped fruits on this plant of beaches and dunes with various species found throughout the world. These rockets are two staged, each containing at least one seed. The lower stage remains on the plant to repopulate the same area, while the upper stage breaks off to be dispersed, often by water, to seed new areas. The name might also refer to this being a coastal member of the mustard family - Brassicaceae - that includes arugula or roquette.

View online purchase options for Searocket Two by Paul Rebmann

Searocket has small four-petaled white to lavender flowers. The plants are typically sprawling, with fleshy leaves that may be wavy edged or deeply lobed. There are two species in Florida, Cakile lanceolata occurring on both coasts, and Cakile edentula subspecies harperi on the east coast and up to the outer banks of North Carolina.

View online purchase options for Sea Rosemary by Paul Rebmann

Another plant of beach dunes and coastal thickets is Sea Rosemary, Heliotropium gnaphalodes. It is also known as Sea Lavender, a name it shares with a completely different plant, Limonium carolinianum of brackish marshes, salt flats, mangrove swamps and coastal strands.

Purchase Sea Lavender by Paul Rebmann

I purchased this sea rosemary at a native plant sale a week after hurricane Matthew and it is growing nicely.

View online purchase options for Sea Rosemary Flowers by Paul Rebmann

It is a Florida endangered plant that naturally occurs just south of Volusia County, from Brevard County down into the keys. The genus name refers to the form of the flowers that grow in an arc and appear to be arching towards the sun, like its relatives including scorpionstail.

View online purchase options for Scorpionstail by Paul Rebmann


Paul Rebmann
April 30, 2017

Sandhill Cranes

March 13th, 2017

Sandhill Cranes

One of the many cool things about living in Florida is experiencing Sandhill cranes. We have two distinct populations of these majestic birds in the Sunshine State. About five thousand Florida sandhill cranes live here year-round and are considered a separate subspecies from the more numerous greater sandhill cranes that only winter here. The migratory cranes breed in the Great Lakes region of North America and arrive in large flocks during November and December. This increases the crane population of the state about six-fold until they depart, typically March and April.

View online purchase options for Sandhill Crane at Clearwater Lake #2 by Paul Rebmann

Sometimes huge numbers of cranes gather at Paynes Prairie, or other prairies near Gainesville. I keep missing this event despite numerous visits to likely spots during different winters. This January I was at Sweetwater Wetlands Park next to Paynes Prairie thrilled at all of the limpkins and black-bellied whistling-ducks I was seeing. After spending the morning photographing those and many other birds, I stopped by Paynes Prairie State Park to drop off some ice where my wife was having a women's camping weekend with friends. After that, I was almost home from the over 2 hour drive when Virginia texted that they were on LaChua Trail and there were hundreds of sandhill cranes on the prairie! I might have missed that, but the next month I was back at Sweetwater Wetlands Park co-leading a Birds of a Feather Fest field trip with Greg Miller of The Big Year, where we saw hundreds of sandhill cranes flying overhead.

Sandhill Cranes in Flight

The Florida sandhill cranes are mostly seen in pairs or small groups, sometimes along the side of the road or even strolling through neighborhoods. They are monogamous, breeding in late winter and spring and usually laying two eggs on a mat of vegetation in shallow water.

View online purchase options for Sandhill Crane and Eggs by Paul Rebmann

For many years, usually first thing in the morning while camping, I would often have a "what on earth is that?" moment when I heard sandhill cranes honking in the distance. I would take a few moments to figure out what I was hearing, and now most of the time immediately realize the source of the distinctive call.

View online purchase options for Sandhill Cranes Calling by Paul Rebmann

Cranes go back 2-1/2 million years with the oldest known crane fossils discovered in a shell pit near Sarasota, Florida. Up until recently sandhill cranes were considered the same genus as whooping cranes, but in 2016 Grus canadensis was moved to the genus Antigone joining species from Asia and Australia. Antigone is the name of Oedipus's daughter/half-sister in Greek mythology.

View online purchase options for Sandhill Crane at Clearwater Lake by Paul Rebmann

More photos and information about sandhill cranes can be found on my Wild Florida Photo website

View online purchase options for Sandhill Crane Portrait by Paul Rebmann

Paul Rebmann
March 13, 2017

Clasping Warea

December 7th, 2016

Clasping Warea

Clasping Warea is a rare Florida endemic wildflower that occurs only in central Florida. The ideal habitat for this endangered plant is longleaf pine sandhill.

Sandhill is a high and dry pine forest with an open savanna-like understory that is typically made up mostly of wiregrass with scatterings of herbaceous wildflowers. Longleaf pines predominate, often augmented with turkey oaks, both having root systems that allow them to obtain the necessary water in this habitat. The soil is deep sand and the savanna is maintained with frequent small wildfires, naturally ignited by lightning. This periodic clearing of the undergrowth allows the wildflowers to grow without competition from shrubby plants that are not adapted to the frequent fires. Fire is also a critical component in the reproductive cycle of both wiregrass and longleaf pines. Sandhill was part of the great longleaf pine forest of the southeastern coastal plain that once extended from Virginia into Texas.

View online purchase options for Sandhill Wildflowers by Paul Rebmann

Warea amplexifolia is a member of the pinelandcress genus which was named for Nathaniel A. Ware (1789-1853), a teacher, lawyer and land speculator who traveled extensively and lived in various parts of the United States. Ware was a member of the American Philosophical Society, pursuing the natural sciences, including botany and geology, and collecting many plants during his travels. He apparently saw and described or collected a specimen of clasping warea in 'east Florida' in the early 1800s.



Of the four Warea species in Florida, W. amplexifolia is the only one with heart-shaped leaves in which the base surrounds (clasps) the stem. Clasping warea blooms form in terminal crowded clusters, maturing from the bottom up and somewhat globular shaped. The individual flowers are about a half-inch wide with four paddle-shaped whitish to rose-purple petals and six long stamens. The fruit is a long thin pod called a silique that is about three inches long, and hangs down in a curving arc. Warea is in the mustard family (Brassicaeae).

View online purchase options for Clasping Warea by Paul Rebmann

Clasping Warea is one of the subjects in the Only in Florida exhibit that has been showing at the Lyonia Gallery in Deltona. That exhibit ends February 1, 2017 with the next showing at the Kimbell Center Art Gallery at Jonathan Dickinson State Park Feb. 13 through March 4. There will also be three presentations of the Only in Florida program in the central Florida area in January and at the Kimbell Center in February. For exhibit and presentation schedules see www.wildflphoto.com/events.html.

Paul Rebmann
Dec. 7, 2016

Wiliam Bartram

September 29th, 2016

Wiliam Bartram

William Bartram was born in 1738 in the family home (pictured here at the end of March) overlooking the Schuylkill River near Philadelphia. His father was John Bartram, widely considered the Father of American Botany and co-founder with Benjamin Franklin and others of the Philadelphia Philosophical Society. When William was 27 he accompanied his father on his first expedition into Georgia and Florida. The purpose of this trip was to provide a report and collection of plants to King George III on the area recently acquired by England from Spain.

After that expedition, William returned to the southeastern colonies on behalf of private English benefactors who in return received much of what he collected. He also attempted at one point to start a plantation in Florida along the St. Johns River, an endeavor that did not last long. After returning to Pennsylvania, he wrote and eventually published his famous and popular book Travels through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida. In it he described the plants and creatures that he encountered in this strange wild land, including the natives, with which he had many interactions. The chief of the Alachua tribe called William 'puc-puggy', which was 'flower hunter' in their language.

Bartrams Ixia by Paul Rebmann

As a result of the botanical knowledge that he brought back to scientists with his drawings and collections, a number of species bear the Bartram name in William's honor (and also a few for his father). The images here include several that I have photographed, one of these is Bartram's Ixia, a small wildflower that is only found in northeastern Florida, mostly in the area surrounding Bartram's failed plantation. Calydorea caelestina blooms in the late spring and into the summer. Each of the violet-blue flowers open only once early in the day, start closing during mid-morning, and are usually gone by noon. When not in bloom, the plant is nondescript, appearing as though it was some kind of grass. Travels included a drawing of this Ixea.

Bartrams Ixia and Bee #2 by Paul Rebmann

Here is a sample from Travels where William is returning down the St. Johns river in his small boat and has spent a pleasant night camped in an orange grove along the river. After arising and attending to his vessel, he ventures into a field beyond the grove: What a beautiful display of vegetation is here before me! Seemingly unlimited in extent and variety: how the dew-drops twinkle and play upon the sight, trembling on the tips of the lucid, green savanna, sparkling as the gem that flames on the turban of the eastern prince. See the pearly tears rolling off the buds of the expanding Granadilla:* behold the azure fields of cerulean Ixia!
*Granadilla = Passiflora incarnata purple passionflower, maypop

Bartrams Ixia and Bee #3 by Paul Rebmann

Another interesting plant named for William is Bartram's airplant Tillandsia bartramii. This epiphytic plant anchors itself on tree branches and trunks and derives sustenance by absorbing nutrients from the rain, dew, dust, decaying leaves and insect matter. Bartram's airplant can be found in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Tamaulipas, Mexico. In the image here, a tubular violet flower can be seen emerging from rose-red bracts. The plant forms a globular cluster of needle-like leaves.

Bartrams Airplant Flower by Paul Rebmann

A documentary titled Cultivating the Wild: William Bartram's Travels is in the works centered around William Bartram and the nature that he explored. A sample of this project can be seen at https://vimeo.com/148183049.

When Travels was first published, many readers were skeptical about some of his descriptions, such as the size, ferocity and number of alligators that he encountered, and of the civilized nature of the native tribes, which many people at the time considered savages. As time passed and more people ventured into the same areas, they discovered that his fantastical descriptions did have a basis in fact.

As I venture into the wild natural areas of Florida while hiking, canoeing or kayaking, I sometimes try to imagine what this must have seemed like to a young man from Pennsylvania over two hundred years ago.

Paul Rebmann
Spet. 29, 2016

Dwarf Cypress

August 15th, 2016

Dwarf Cypress

Along with pines, oaks and tupelo one of the typically 'Florida' trees is the cypress. Florida has two species, the bald cypress and the pond cypress.

Pond cypress is limited to the Southeastern coastal plain from Louisiana to Virginia, plus Delaware. Bald cypress has a wider range, found west into Texas and Oklahoma and north into Illinois through New York state. Pond cypress is also found in fewer habitats, mostly flatwoods ponds and along the edges of lakes, while bald cypress is frequently found in swamps, floodplains and along streams. Pond cypress - Taxodium ascendens - has small leaves that are held tight against the branchlets that usually grow upward. Bald cypress - Taxodium distichum - leaves are spreading with two opposite rows of needle-like leaflets.

When certain conditions exist, pond cypress sometimes can grow very old but remain fairly small for its age. There are two main areas that are known for their large strands of dwarf cypress. One is in the Picayune Strand State Forest in southwest Florida. Another is located in the Florida panhandle in Tate's Hell State Forest.

I almost made it to see the dwarf cypress in Picayune Strand several years ago when I was in the area to attend a Florida Native Plant Society conference, but was driven off the trail by thunderstorms and did not have a chance to go back while I was there.

This spring, after severe weather curtailed what was supposed to be a long camping weekend at Three Rivers State Park, Virginia & I stopped by and checked out the dwarf cypress strand in Tate's Hell.

Dwarf Cypress Strand by Paul Rebmann

At this time, the spring greening was just getting started and the strand was full of water from the recent heavy rains, as can barely be seen in the image above. Most of these cypress trees are less than fifteen feet tall, even though they may be hundreds of years old. These dwarf cypress are often called 'hatrack cypress', a term that seems fitting when looking at the tree in the image below.

Hatrack Cypress by Paul Rebmann

I was back in the area Memorial Day weekend and headed out to Tate's Hell on a whitetop pitcherplant search (see the previous blog post 'Pitcherplants in May') when I again stopped by the dwarf cypress strand. The cypress were greener and the water was lower, and I also found some interesting scenes along the edge of the strand where American white waterlilies were growing in the roadside ditches.

Dwarf Cypress White Waterlily by Paul Rebmann

For more information and to see more photos of both pond and bald cypress trees, visit the Taxodium page at Wild Florida Photo.

Paul Rebmann
August 14, 2016

Pitcherplants in May

June 11th, 2016

Pitcherplants in May

The Sarraceniaceae is a family of carnivorous plants known as the pitcher-plants. Members of this plant family have modified leaves that form a pitcher of various shapes and colors that traps and digests insects. This allows these plants to thrive in low-nutrient soils as is found in some bogs and other usually wet locations. Unlike the better-known venus fly-trap the pitcher-plants catch their prey without any moving parts, using the shape of the pitcher, hairs and/or chemicals instead to capture their meals.

Other than the California pitcherplant - Darlingtonia californica on the west coast, all of the North American species of the pitcher-plant family are in the genus Sarracenia. A number of these can be found in the southeastern states, with one Sarracenia purpurea also occurring across the colder regions of the continent.

Pitcherplant Hoods by Paul Rebmann

In Florida the most widespread of these is the hooded pitcherplant. Sarracenia minor is the only species found in the Florida peninsula., occurring from just north of Lake Okeechobee, west into the central panhandle and into Georgia and the Carolinas. While I see these fairly frequently, they are seldom as nice looking and not obscured by other plants as they were early this May in Tiger Bay State Forest.

Pitcherplant Flower by Paul Rebmann

All of the other pitcherplants are absent from the Florida peninsula, occurring mostly in the panhandle and various southeastern states. I have seen several of these during Florida Native Plant Society conference field trips in the Apalachicola National Forest. During these and other visits in the forest, I have seen many color variations of Sarracenia flava, yellow pitcherplants. At one of the locations visited, I went back after the field trip and made the image that I call O'Sarracenia.

Award-winning O Sarracenia by Paul Rebmann

This memorial day weekend I visited Tate's Hell State Forest, stopping at an area that was recently burned to check out a big patch of Oceola's Plume. Here I also discovered fresh leaves of parrot pitcherplants. In this species, the hood resembles a parrot head and obscures the small opening that allows insects into the trap.

Fresh Parrot Pitcherplants by Paul Rebmann

There are many variations on the details of how the area got its name, but all revolve around Cebe Tate, a farmer who in 1875 went hunting a panther that was killing his livestock and had a lengthly and harrowing experience in the wild. It was said when he emerged from the swampland that ...I just came from Hell. After which the area came to be known as Tate's Hell. Now a state forest , it is popular with hunters, paddlers enjoying the New River, birders seeking red-cockaded woodpeckers, migrating warblers and more, plus other nature lovers.

Whitetop Pitcherplant by Paul Rebmann

My primary objective this day was to find whitetop pitcherplants, a species that I possibly seen before late in the year. They were dried, brown and mostly toppled pitchers along the Florida Trail in Blackwater River State Forest and could have been either yellow (S. flava) or whitetop (S. leucophylla) pitcherplants. After scouting around in Tate's Hell, stopping here and there to photograph various subjects, I finally found some Sarracenia leucophylla and was able to make some photographs before a thunderstorm moved in and sent me on my way.

Whitetop Pitcherplants And Clouds by Paul Rebmann

While May is not the only time you can see pitcherplants, it does happen that all of the images seen here were taken in May of various years. Most of these species would probably have prettier flowers earlier in the season, before the drooping petals fall off.

Paul Rebmann
June 6, 2016

 

Displaying: 1 - 10 of 33

  |  

Show All

  |

[1]

2 3 4 Next