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LONG PINE KEY

Pine rockland habitat at Long Pine Key in the Everglades National Park.

Located between the Ernest Coe Visitor Center (near Homestead) and Flamingo, Long Pine Key is an area of slightly higher elevation than much of the Everglades. This island in the river of grass is about 20,000 acres of mostly pine rockland habitat, but also contains more than 120 tropical hammocks. These ecosystems make up one of the most floristically diverse areas of Florida, with many rare and/or endemic plant species.
Long Pine Key has a campground with bathrooms (no showers) and many trails.
For more information on this habitat and a list of some of the plants found there, see the Wild Florida Photo Pine Rockland habitat page.



BENT ALLIGATOR-FLAG

A close-up photo of the flowers of Thalia geniculata, note the insects on top of the plant.

This large-leaved plant is widespread in wet places throughout the central and south peninsula, also extending into northeast Florida plus Dixie, Wakulla, Franklin and Gulf Counties. The range includes Alabama, Mississippi, West Indies, Mexico, Central and South America.
Flowers hang in pairs on zig-zagging stems, each with three purple petals and three small sepals. The flowering stalks of alligator flag can grow up to 12 feet tall. The leaf blades can be up to a foot wide and three feet long and are attached at an angle to the petiole. This is the 'bent' in the common name and the species name, as geniculata means 'with a knee-like bend'. The tips of the leaves often reach from 6 to 9 feet high.
Florida black bear feed on the leaves and stems of this plant, also called fireflag. This is the only species of the Thalia genus occurring naturally in Florida.
Purchase Alligator Flag Pole Sitters by Paul Rebmann



GREEN ANOLE

Green anoles may vary their body color from green to brown depending upon their surroundings, mood, temperature or health, but they are not chameleons, as they are sometimes called.

Also sometimes called Carolina anoles, they are found in various habitats throughout Florida and the southeastern coastal plain from Oklahoma and Texas to North Carolina. Anolis carolinensis used to be the most common anole in Florida, however the brown anole is now more frequent in some areas, most noticeably in urban and suburban habitats of the central and southern peninsula.
Green anoles are slender, 7 to 8 in. long with a long wedge-shaped snout and long thin tail. Body is white below and the males have a pink dew lap that can be extended from below the throat to signal adversaries and potential mates.
Of the 7 or 8 species of Anoles found in Florida, the green anole is the only undisputed native. The native status of the bark anole is questionable.



CARDINALFLOWER

Lobelia cardinalis is an occasional perennial herb of floodplain forests and spring runs from about the I-4 corridor northward.

The range extends throughout the eastern United States and Canada and into the southwestern states.
This is the only red-flowered lobelia in Florida and much of its range. The bright red or scarlet flowers grow in a showy raceme. The zygomorphic flowers are two-lipped, with the lower lip often more deeply lobed than most of the lobelias, and a calyx with five linear, entire and hairy lobes. The fruits are ovoid or spherical capsules with brown seeds. Leaves are alternate, elliptic to lanceolate, toothed, and reduced upward. Plants can grow to 3 meters (~10 ft.) tall.

Cardinalflower is just one of the wildflowers seen in the Silver River video (see below double-crested cormorant)



DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT

This bird is often seen perched above or near the water with wings spread to dry. A year-round resident of Florida and the most numerous and widespread cormorant in North America, they can be seen at some time of year in every state.

Double-crested cormorants are large and dark with juveniles having a lighter head, neck and breast. They are visually similar to the anhinga. Differences include the double-crested cormorant having a shorter tail, a yellow to orange chin and most notably a beak that is thick throughout with the upper beak downcurved and overlapping the lower beak at the tip. Anhingas have a longer tail and a straight-tapered, pointed beak.
Found in nearly any form of water habitat - fresh, brackish and salt - these birds will nest either in trees or on the ground. They feed primarily on fish, also eating other aquatic animals, insects and amphibians.
Populations declined drastically in the 1950s and 1960s when DDT was being used and a pesticide. Since the 1972 ban on DDT use in the United States, cormorants, like the bald eagle and other birds, have made a dramatic comeback.

Cormorants and anhingas are just two of the bird species seen on the Florida Native Plant Society Pawpaw Chapter July 2011 field trip on the Silver River. The chapter group launched kayaks and canoes at the Silver River State Park boat ramp for the field trip to Silver Springs and back. I put in at Ray's Wayside Park earlier in the morning and paddled up to meet and join the chapter group at the state park. Susan Young also put in at Ray's, about an hour after I did, and caught up with us at Silver Springs. Here is a video of some of what we saw on the Silver River.

Everything in the video was seen on the field trip. There was some artistic license taken, in that the anhinga and ibis photos were taken previously and elsewhere. The cormorant photo was taken on the Silver River in 2008 when Virginia and I paddled our canoe from the state park to the spring. The immature little blue heron video clip was from a kayak paddle two weeks prior on Spring Garden Creek (see the previous feature). All of the other photos and clips in the video are from the field trip.



SWAMP ROSEMALLOW

While kayaking one recent (July 10, 2011) Sunday morning on Spring Garden Creek - the outflow from De Leon Springs - I saw many hibiscus in bloom, both the pink swamp rosemallow pictured here and the scarlet rosemallow.

A tall soft-wooded shrub occasionally found throughout much of Florida in swamps, marshes and other wet areas, both brackish and freshwater. The range extends from southeastern Georgia through the southern coastal states into Texas.
The large flowers of Hibiscus grandiflorus are solitary and grow from the leaf axils, appearing from May to September. There are 5 pink petals 10-15 cm (405 in.) long, spreading so as to not remain overlapping at the tips. The corolla has a dark reddish-purple center at the base of the petals. Five stigmas extend above the many stamens that are attached along the pistol. Narrow linear bracts surround the outer base of the flower. The alternate leaves are softly hairy, long stalked, three-lobed with a heart shaped base and toothed margins. These plants are often 2-3 meters (6-10 ft.) tall.
Sometimes cultivated in water gardens, the stems wither away in winter and re-sprout from the rootstock.