April 15, 2019
The way that life grows on other life may be especially visible in semitropical and tropical locations. In Florida festooned trees draw my attention and wonder. A walk this winter in the Myakka River State Park with my friend Jean provided more instances of such complexities than usual—probably because Jean pointed out some beautiful examples at the very beginning of our wandering. The culmination was a tree and its inhabitants that Jean calls her favorite tree. Perched bromeliads (some people call them air plants, though that is a misnomer) and mosses growing on trees are easy to spot and appreciate. So are many species of lichens, which are not plants at all but hybrid life forms that combine fungi and (usually) green algae or cyanobacteria. Jean’s favorite tree is special for hosting a variety of lichens, including the subtlest—pale washes of color that make you lean in to see if you can catch when one faint hue gives way to another. Even a short walk through a forest of growth on top of growth may be enough to make you marvel at the connectedness of life, perhaps even to recall the John Donne poem.
And a detail of the photo above:
January 7, 2017
On New Year’s Eve day I photographed the pendant inflorescence (husband speak for “hanging-down flower”) of a bromeliad that belongs to the genus Vriesea, shown in the lefthand part of this diptych. When I turned around to continue walking in the Selby Garden’s conservatory, I almost ran into its very, very distant relative shown in the righthand part of the diptych.
January 6, 2016
Singled out by the sun, this hybrid bromeliad is within the genus Guzmania, says biologist husband David. Selby specializes in bromeliads.
December 25, 2016
I couldn’t get a decent photo of this (dead) tree, but I wanted to show it to you anyway so you could see that some of the lichens aren’t just pink but red. The frilly green things are other lichens. The spidery and bristle-y plants growing on the tree are bromeliads.
December 25, 2016
Mystery solved: These are pop ash trees (Fraxinus caroliniana), says biologist husband David.
December 24, 2016
This past weekend I made my first visit to the Myakka River State Park for the season. I only had a short time there but managed to find a few goodies. I don’t know what kind of bushy tree this is, but there are many in this Florida park. They grow in groves. The trees are leafless at this time of year; the greenery you see on the branches are bromeliads. The white and pink dots on the trunks and branches are lichens.
UPDATE: Mystery solved: These are pop ash trees (Fraxinus caroliniana), says biologist husband David.
April 16, 2015
April 10, 2011
This morning we took another trip south to Venice to try another new (to us) park: Curry Creek Preserve. We hadn’t gotten too far into the park when a man taking a walk there stopped to talk with Janet. He said he came to Curry Creek Preserve a lot but that a much better view of the water was across the street at the Pinebrook Fitness Park. So we backtracked and went there. Well, yes, the views of the creek were better, but all-in-all we didn’t much favor the location and wondered if we should have stuck with the preserve. Ah, well. To try to recoup, we then drove to an old train parked on a siderail in town that a printmaking classmate had told me about. It was festooned in graffiti and in a lovely state of disrepair.
April 3, 2011
Another new place today: Jelks Preserve, south of Sarasota near Venice. Almost as soon as we walked through the gate Janet noticed a small path to the left. It bordered a small stream on its way to the Myakka River. The foliage was jungle lush, as you can see in the first photograph. I felt like I was in a museum diorama of early plant life. . . . Much later we came to a spot where the wild irises were just finishing blooming. . . . I never can resist an interesting saw palmetto leaf . . . or reflections in water . . . or Leptothrix discophora films.
April 2, 2011
This past Sunday Janet and I attended a fundraiser at the Myakka River State Park for the Friends of Myakka River. We didn’t spend much time taking photos, and I didn’t think I’d gotten anything worth sharing. I didn’t even download until days later. But today I took a good look at them and found some you might enjoy. Or not. This should be my last alligator photo. Should be but probably won’t be. They really are fascinating. It’s partly that they are so big, and—probably—partly that they are so dangerous. For the last year or so Janet has been making a lot of black and white photographs. I used to shoot black and white in the ’70s but haven’t made black and white photos lately. I just seem to see in color. Seeing so many of Janet’s great black and white photos, I finally I had to try some. The first of them here is an anhinga drying out its wings. Unless it’s a cormorant drying out its wings. The anhingas have a sharper bill and silver on their wings, but I can’t tell from this far away. The second is a crow, probably a fish crow. Fish crows look very much like regular crows, but their voices sound like they have put a mute over their mouths. I just read today, in Kevin Kelly’s What Technology Wants, that crows’ forebrains “are as relatively large as those of nonhuman apes, and the ratio of the brain weight to body weight is in the same line as apes.” He calls them, along with parrots and ravens, the “‘primates’ of birds.”