Sunday, October 24, 2010

Trail Tales (or Stuff I've Seen While Hunting For Orchids), Part 3

On the day we went to see Pteroglossaspis pottsii in flower, we saw a Butterfly Pea (Centrosema virginianum) in flower:

This flower one of many 'orchid imposters' we have in the state of Florida, with lovely, two-inch-long (5 cm long), purple flowers that, to an untrained eye, may appear to be an orchid. This flower, in fact, belongs to a member of the pea family, which is about as far away from being an orchid as you can get.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Get Your Ghost On...

'Tis the season for things of a ghoulish nature. Celebrate it by showing off your love for Florida's orchids...

Lurking deep in the swamps of Florida, the ghost orchid (Dendrophylax lindenii) haunts largely inaccessible places with its large, white and pale green flowers. To add to its mystique, it is fragrant only in the dark hours of the night to lure its pollinators (night-flying moths) to its narrow phial of nectar.

These jet-black t-shirts capture the essence of Florida's ghost orchid and help in a small fashion with the costs of running the web-site, trips into the field (requiring fuel for both vehicles and hikers), etc. Own your own ghost orchid t-shirt by following the link below:

>>> The Florida Ghost Orchid T-shirt Store <<<

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Trail Tales (or Stuff I've Seen While Hunting For Orchids), Part 2

A week or two later, one of my older daughters, Sarah, and I went back to the same preserve from part number 1 to try to photograph one of the two native species of orchids found here (Habenaria odontopetala and Epidendrum magnoliae). I was recounting the tale from the last time, instructing her in no uncertain terms that she should keep an eye on the ground carefully to make sure she didn't step on a cottonmouth. As I was pontificating, Sarah was trying to quietly get my attention, "Dad....Dad....Dad". "What?" I say. "Look ahead up the trail". Right there, about 100 feet away, was a young black bear. I managed to get out my camera and fire off a shot before he/she noticed us and scampered off quickly into the woods (the Floridian population of Ursus americanus is known for its relative shyness). This was only the second time in my life I've seen a black bear...once, I saw a young bear scampering away in the Tallahassee area as I was walking in the woods.

Here is the photo from the day:

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Trail Tales (or Stuff I've Seen While Hunting For Orchids), Part 1

One fine morning, while hiking back out of a local wildlife sanctuary, I was about to step on what I thought was a stick, when, suddenly, my eyes detected a distinctively non-stick-like pattern. It turned out to be a youngish cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus piscivorus) sunning itself in the trail. Thankfully, these snakes are not nearly as aggressive as legend says they are (it is my understanding that they get this mistaken reputation from highly aggressive, non-poisonous water snakes). A quick flick with my walking stick near the tail, and this fellow(ette) decided the swamp on the other side of the trail was more to his/her liking.

As of yet, I've not been bitten by a venomous snake...I'm praying that it stays that way.
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