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SEVENYEAR APPLE

A rare plant of coastal hammocks in south Florida, Bermuda and the West Indies.

This woody evergreen shrub can grow to 3 m (10 ft.) tall and is dioecious - having separate male and female flowers. There are few-flowered axilary clusters of male flowers and solitary female flowers. All are white, tubular, with five to six pointed lobes 2 cm (3/4 in.) across that are often tinted pink at the tips. The namesake fruits start out green, changing to yellow, then black at maturity, and are egg shaped, 5 cm (2 in.) wide and 7.5 cm (3 in.) long. Sevenyear apple gets its name from the long time that the fruit takes to mature - which is actually about ten months. The opposite leaves are obovate, dark-glossy green 7.5 - 13 cm (3-5 in.) long and 4-6 cm (1-1/2 to 2-1/2 in.) wide.
Some sources name this plant Genipa clusiifolia while others call it Casasia clusiifolia.



KEY DEER

Key deer are found only in the Florida keys.

The historical range extended from Key West probably up the chain of islands as far as Vaca Key. Now most of the population exists on Big Pine and No Name Keys.
This sub-species of white-tailed deer most likely migrated to the keys when a continuous land bridge existed. That would have been before the melting of the Wisconsin Glacier caused a rise of sea levels, dividing the area of the keys into separate islands.
With a shoulder height of between 61-71 cm (24-28 in.), does weigh 45-65 pounds with bucks being about ten pounds heavier. Key deer feed on red, black and white mangroves, thatch palm berries and other native plants. They can tolerate small amounts of salt in their water, allowing them to drink from brackish sources, but do require fresh water to survive. Their greatest threat is from automobile collisions, prompting highly enforced lowered speed limits on Big Pine Key.



WEST INDIAN TUFTED AIRPLANT

Although this bromeliad is rare, it can be found in locally abundant colonies in swamps and wet tropical hammocks of south Florida.

Guzmania monostachia ranges throughout the West Indies, Mexico, Central America, Peru and Brazil. In Florida it is only found in Miami-Dade, mainland Monroe and Collier counties.
The 2-3 cm (3/4 to 1-1/4 in.) wide leaves of this epiphytic perennial can be up to 50 cm (20 in.) long, nearly parallel-sided and tapering abruptly near the tip. Monostachia means one-spiked, referring to the single spike of many flowers. This inflorescence is covered with bracts that are green with chocolate color stripes on the lower part of the spike, with the upper ones varying from pink to scarlet. Small white, tubular flowers protrude from behind these bracts. Guzmania mostly blooms from February through August, peaking during the months of May, June and July.
This close-up photo of the inflorescence was taken during a Florida Native Plant Society annual conference field trip to Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park with park biologist Mike Owen. You can find out more about the Fakahatchee Strand at the Friends of Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve website.



TRICOLORED HERON

Requiring a wetland habitat, Egretta tricolor is listed as a species of special concern in Florida and a number of other states.

Previously called the Louisiana heron, they were historically populous in Louisiana but have suffered from extensive wetlands loss in that area. Significant nesting populations exist in the Tampa Bay and Cape Canaveral areas, and this species will benefit greatly from Everglades restoration.
Found throughout Florida, tricolored herons range along the Atlantic Coast as far north as Maine in the summer, retreating to south of North Carolina in the winter. The range extends along the U.S. gulf coast, both coasts of Mexico and along the South American coasts to Peru and northern Brazil.
A medium-sized heron, being 63-68 cm (25-28 in.) in length with a wingspan of 95-105 cm (37-41 in.). The white underbelly in all plumages, in combination with a dark breast, is unique among the herons and can assist in identification. The broken white line down the foreneck can appear similar to the great blue heron. Tricolor herons have an extremely long bill, yellow in juveniles and during the winter, turning blue with a dark tip during breeding season, typically February through July in North America. Legs are yellow, turning pinkish-red when in breeding plumage, which includes white head plumes and long buffy plumes on the back. Neck is russet in immature birds, slaty-blue in all adults.
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FOURPETAL PAWPAW

The only place this rare plant is found is in the scrub habitat of two Florida counties - Martin and Palm Beach.

Fourpetal pawpaw is a shrub from one to 3 meters (3-10 ft.) tall, easily the tallest of the pawpaws in the southern peninsula. Flowers appear in the upper leaf axils after the emergence of the current season's leaves. Despite the name, most plants will usually only have a few flowers with four sepals, with most having three or five. The sepals are triangular, green, and have lines of reddish hairs. The petals are maroon or white with maroon streaks. The fruit is a greenish-yellow berry to 9 cm (3-1/2 in.) long. Leaves are alternate, oblong to oblanceolate, 5-13 cm (2-5 in.) long with revolute margins, the lower surfaces pale green with raised veins.
Asimina tetramera is both a federal and Florida endangered species.



SHUTTLE ATLANTIS RETURNING TO KENNEDY SPACE CENTER

On June 2, 2009 residents and visitors of Florida's northeast coast were treated to an unusual sight - the space shuttle Atlantis perched atop NASA's special 747 aircraft flying at low altitude just off the beach.

Atlantis was returning to Kennedy Space Center after the STS-125 mission that serviced the Hubble Space Telescope. The shuttle had landed May 24 at Edwards Air Force Base in California due to the poor weather in Florida, where remnants of a severe weather system that caused massive flooding in east Florida was still lingering.