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HARPER'S BEAUTY

This photo was taken during a Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS) 2010 conference field trip in the Apalachicola National Forest.

HARPER'S BEAUTY - Harperocallis flava

Harper's beauty is a small endangered perennial is found only in Franklin and Liberty Counties of the Florida panhandle, occurring in wet prairies, seepage slopes, pitcherplant bogs and transition zones into scrub habitat.
Harperocallis flava is named for Roland MacMillan Harper (1878-1966), a botanist and geographer working at various times for Georgia, Alabama and Florida during his career. He was fond of windshield botanizing while riding in trains or automobiles, and was known to take long solitary treks to note the smaller plants. During a two hour train stop at Tifton Georgia, he found 'a sloping bog' where he discovered two new species: a beaksedge and purple-disk honeycomb-head. He studied the bogs of the Apalachicola area, documenting the pitcher plants found there. Harper's observations of the coastal plain landscapes led him to become one of the early advocates of the use of fire to maintain the ecosystems, then strongly opposed by the US Forest Service. Sidney McDaniel, a young botanist and student of Robert Godfrey at Florida State University - in his dissertation on Sarracenia -noted Harper's work on pitcher plants. A year after Harper's death, McDaniel discovered a new species of tiny lily-like plant along Hwy 65 near Sumatra, and named it Harper's beauty.
Originally considered a member of the Lily family, Harperocallis flava has recently been reclassified into the newer Tofieldiaceae family.
See the Wild Florida Photo Harperocallis flava page for a detailed description and more photos.
For more information on Harper's beauty visit the Center for Plant Conservation or see the Florida Natural Areas Inventory Field Guide page(pdf) for this species.
Purchase photo or canvas prints of Harper’s Beauty by Paul Rebmann Purchase photo or canvas prints of Harper’s Beauty #2 by Paul Rebmann



PELICAN in SKYPOOLS

A brown pelican surrounded by skypools, reflections of the sky on the ripples of the water.

BROWN PELICAN IN SKYPOOLS - Pelecanus occidentalis

Brown pelicans are large dark birds found mostly near the coast throughout Florida. The range extends through the Gulf coastal states and up the eastern coast into the mid-Atlantic states in summer. Also in southern California and the Baja region of Mexico plus Central America and the Pacific coast of South America from Ecuador to Chile.
Brown pelicans are the only dark pelican and also the only pelican that feeds by plunging into the water to catch fish. They have a large heavy mostly gray body with a very short tail, short legs and webbed feet. The long heavy beak has a pouch underneath. Adult non-breeding birds have a white head and neck, breeding adults have rich dark brown nape and neck. Atlantic & Gulf birds have a dark gray to brown pouch year round, while along the Pacific the pouch is olive becoming red during breeding season. The South American pelicans have a blue pouch in breeding plumage. Juveniles are dirty brown all over except for a white belly.
The digestive system of pelicans is adapted for fish that pelicans can swallow whole. They cannot digest larger fish bones, such as the filleted fish carcass or other parts of sport fish. These larger bones can lodge in their throat or become septic in the stomach and kill the bird. You should never feed or allow pelicans to eat scraps from cleaning fish. Not only is it a bad idea, it is now illegal in Florida.



ZIGZAG BLADDERWORT

Zigzag bladderwort is a common carnivorous plant of wet flatwoods throughout most of Florida.

ZIGZAG BLADDERWORT - Utricularia subulata

The range includes all of the southeastern United States west into Texas and Oklahoma, plus California, Indiana and Michigan and up the eastern seaboard to Pennsylvania, New York and Massachusetts. Also occurs in Nova Scotia.
This minute wildflower grows mostly underground, with a thin bronze colored scape that extends up to 8 inches tall. The irregularly shaped flowers are usually yellow, although sometimes pale and whitish, and are less than a half inch long. Leaves are not readily evident and are usually at or below the surface of the wet soils.
The finely dissected leaves have minute (0.5 mm or 1/50 of an inch) bladders that trap prey such as protozoa and rotifers for nutrition.



EASTERN COTTONTAIL

I have often seen cottontails while hiking at Lyonia Preserve, but usually they quickly bound into the woods. One morning in March of 2012 there were two rabbits that remained in view, moving back and forth across a sand road and allowing for a closer approach.

EASTERN COTTONTAIL - Sylvilagus floridanus

Cottontail rabbits are found in a variety of habitats, frequently fields, farms and woodlands, throughout Florida except for the keys. The range extends throughout much of eastern and central North America, Mexico, Central America, Columbia and Venezuela. Although not native to Washington, Oregon and British Columbia, they have established populations there.
The fur is grayish-brown mixed with black hairs with a rusty wash on the nape and a white belly. Slightly larger than marsh rabbits, cottontails are 17 inches long. They have a white eye ring and a tail that is white on the underside, displaying the 'cottontail' while bounding away. Ears are up to 2-1/2 inches long with a thin black area along the upper edges.
Of the many subspecies of cottontails, at least four are currently recognized as occurring in Florida; Sylvilagus fioridanus fioridanus, S. f. mallurus, S. f. ammophilus and S. f. paulsoni. S.f. floridanus occurs in much of the central and southern peninsula as far north as St. Augustine on the east coast and Levy County on the west coast, usually where the elevation is below 100 feet. S. f. mallurus is found in north Florida and the panhandle, with the range extending south as far as Polk County. S. f. ammophilus is limited to the barrier islands of east Florida in the vicinity of Sebastian Inlet. S. f. paulsoni occurs in the pinelands east of the Everglades in south Florida and as far north as Martin County.
The rabbit pictured here was at Lyonia Preserve in Deltona, and based on the location I would guess is Sylvilagus floridanus floridanus.



SKYBLUE LUPINE

A common lupine in sandhills and dry open hammocks through much of the Florida peninsula and the western half of the panhandle.

SKYBLUE LUPINE - Lupinus diffusus

The range includes the southeastern coastal states from Mississippi to North Carolina.
Lupinus diffusus is one of three Florida lupines that have simple leaves. Of these it is one of two that have obvious stipules, a pair of appendages at the base of the leaf stem. Of the species with stipules and simple leaves, skyblue lupine is the only one with blue flowers having a white or creamy spot. The other, lady lupine - L. villosus - has pink flowers with a conspicuous reddish-purple spot. L. westianus has simple leaves with no obvious stipules and occurs in two subspecies; var. westianus with blue flowers in the panhandle, and var. aridorum with pink flowers in central Florida.
Skyblue lupine is a perennial hairy plant that can grow up to 3 feet tall, sometimes in large clumps. Pea-shaped flowers are numerous on terminal racemes. The legume is hairy, up to an inch long.



WOOD STORK

This endangered bird is the only stork that breeds in the United States. Rare or locally abundant through much of the Florida peninsula and the Big Bend area, uncommonly spotted in the panhandle and the keys.

WOOD STORK - Mycteria americana

The wood stork featured here shows the red feet of the breeding season, the only other aspect of breeding plumage are pale pink areas under the wings.
In Florida, breeding occurs during the dry season of late winter or early spring, starting earlier in the south. Shrinking wetlands during this period concentrates the fish in smaller water bodies making it easier to feed the young. There has been a dramatic decline in the traditional large nesting colonies of south Florida, with a trend towards smaller, more numerous colonies in central and north Florida.
Mycteria americana is a large white wader standing 3 to 4 feet tall with a wingspan of five feet. Wings have black tips and trailing edges that are most visible in flight. Wood storks have bald heads that show black skin. Fairly quiet birds, the young will make nasal barking sounds, adults usually only make hissing sounds and have bill-clattering nest displays.