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CRESTED CARACARA

The habitats of the crested caracara are the prairies and palm groves in the south central peninsula of Florida, mostly north and west of Lake Okeechobee.

Caracara cheriway is also a permanent resident from Louisiana to Arizona, into central and south America as far as the Amazon River area of Brazil. Often perching on posts, caracara walk and run on the ground, feeding on carrion and small animals. They sometimes hunt in pairs.



SALTMARSH MORNING-GLORY

Ipomoea sagittata gets its species name from the arrow-shaped leaves that distinguish this from the other morning-glories.

Found on coastal strands, in freshwater and brackish marshes, flatwoods and wet disturbed sites throughout much of Florida. The range of glades or saltmarsh morning glory includes the southeastern United States from Texas to North Carolina, Mexico, Guatemala, the Bahamas, Cuba and Jamaica.



LANCELEAF RATTLEBOX

This Africa native can be found in disturbed sites throughout much of Florida.

It is also found in the southeastern coastal states from Alabama to North Carolina plus Louisiana and Hawaii. Of the more than a dozen species of Crotalaria in Florida, only four are native to the state.
Lanceleaf rattlebox has alternate, linear to lanceeolate trifoliate leaves that are sharp-tipped. The fruits are cylindrical, hairy and upcurved at the tip. C. lanceolata has yellow pea-shaped flowers up to 1 cm long with red-brown lines or spots. The stem is minutely hairy, branched and can grow to one meter or more tall.



GIANT LEATHER FERN

A large fern of freshwater and brackish marshes, freshwater swamps and sinkholes in hammocks throughout most of peninsular Florida.

Also found in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Acrostichum danaeifolium can be distinguished from A. aureum, the other leather fern in Florida, by the overlapping upper pinnae, the stalks of the lower pinnae not exceeding about 2 cm and the fertile fronds having nearly all of the pinnae bearing sori.



COONTIE

The photo featured here shows the seeds of the Coontie, which has separate male and female plants.

Coontie is also known as Florida arrowroot and there are two varieties in Florida. The east coast variety and the narrow-leaf form ranging through the western and southern peninsula. Coontie is also found in the southeastern coastal counties of Georgia, Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic.
Although poisonous, coontie was an important food source for the Seminoles and earlier Florida native tribes. Properly processed, the roots produced an edible flour-like starch. In the 1800's starch factories in South Florida contributed to the decline of the slow growing plant.



BLACK NIGHTSHADE

A common shrub of disturbed sites throughout much of Florida, Solanum chenopodioides is also native to South America.

This is one of two species of black nightshades native to Florida, the other being S. americanum, or american black nightshade. They can be differentiated by the mature fruit, S. chenopodioides having dull black nodding fruit, while S. americanum has shiny black fruits that are held erect.