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:
February 20, 2018
If you follow Clay Gully (a tributary of the Myakka River) to one of its tributaries, you come to this place. The close understory that you’ve brushed against all along the path suddenly disappears, and the stream becomes narrower and narrower until spreads out in great pools under towering live oaks. It was too early to see the blue flag irises (Iris virginica) flowering, but their foliage was reaching out from the water earlier this month.
February 16, 2018
February 15, 2018
February 14, 2018
This sabal palm leaf was floating in the water of Clay Gully, a tributary of the Myakka River. A polarizing filter on the camera lens and a little tweaking with Color Efex Pro in processing darkened the water and added to the leaf’s glow, which was substantial enough in the first place to draw attention.
December 28, 2016
Don’t worry: I was on the bridge when I took this photograph. The second image (a crop) gives you a better look at this alligator’s gorgeous skin. Click on that image to see it even closer.
December 27, 2016
I took this photo from a bridge over the river. Even though people congregate here, the wildlife hangs around. Well, I guess that’s why people congregate around this bridge . . . . You can see egrets in the distance. Closer are three alligators, a great blue heron (in the water), eight roseate spoonbills surrounding a wood stork, and an anhinga to the left of them.
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.