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STARRY ROSINWEED

This image that I call 'Flower Behind The Flower' is a rear view of a starry rosinweed flower showing the series of large green phyllaries, or involucre bracts, behind the yellow ray petals.

Silphium asteriscus - STARRY ROSINWEED

An occasional wildflower of flatwoods along the west coast of the Florida peninsula south into Lee County and north through the central panhandle and some western panhandle counties. The range extends throughout the southeastern United States, west into Texas and Oklahoma, north into Illinois and Indiana and northeast into Maryland.
A perennial usually less than a meter (3ft.) tall, with leafy, hairy stems. Leaves are highly variable in size, shape and arrangement. The well developed stem leaves have toothed margins and are rough to the touch. The flower disks and rays are both yellow and they bloom from summer into fall. The rays have toothed tips and the involucre bracts (phyllaries) are arranged in two to three series.
Rosinweeds produce seed from the ray flowers as opposed to sunflowers that produce seed from the disk flowers.
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TRICOLORED HERON

A tricolored heron wading through the plants in the shallow water at the edge of a small lake.

Tricolored Heron - Egretta tricolor

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 25-28 inches in length with a wingspan of 37-41 inches. 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.
Requiring a wetland habitat, Egretta tricolor is listed as a species of special concern in Florida and a number of other states.
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SEAOATS

Seaoats at Dawn is an image of a panicle of seaoats against the blue and yellow of the early morning sky

Seaoats at Dawn - Uniola paniculata

A common grass of dunes and beaches along most of the coast of Florida except for the big bend area. The range extends along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts from Delaware to Veracruz, Mexico, plus Cuba and the Bahamas.
Seaoats grow to over 6-1/2 feet tall and spread mainly by the rhizomes as reproduction by seed is typically poor. The leaves are about 24 inches long and less than a half inch wide. The inflorescence is an open, dense terminal panicle to 60cm long with arching branches, nodding when mature. The individual spikelets are typically 3cm (1-3/16 in.) long, golden brown when mature and laterally compressed (flat).
Wild sea oats are Federally protected because the extensive root system helps stabilize sand dunes against erosion. It is unlawful to pick sea oats - including the seeds.
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GOLDEN-SILK SPIDER

This photograph of a Golden-silk Spider hanging from her web won Honorable Mention in the Advanced category of Orange Audubon Society's 2015 Chertok Nature Photography contest.

GOLDEN-SILK SPIDER - Nephila clavipes - BANANA SPIDER

These spiders are often found in late summer and fall on large webs spanning openings, such as trails in woods and citrus groves - often quite high - throughout all of Florida. The range extends through the southeastern United States from Texas to North Carolina, the West Indies, Mexico, Central America and South America into Argentina.
Golden-silk spiders are one of the largest spiders in North America, along with Argiope aurantia and Araneus bicentenarius. The large females are distinctive, with a silver carapace and a large dull orange or tan abdomen with light spots. The legs are orange, varying from yellow to brown, with dark hairy bands on the rear and front two pairs of legs. The adult females range from 1 to 1-2/3 inches with the males much smaller and usually only noticed hanging out near a female on the web.
Captured prey is moved to the hub of the web, which is typically off-center, and wrapped for storage. These spiders will usually only bite if handled, with the bite being painful, but otherwise harmless to humans.
Nephila clavipes is the only member of this genus in the Western Hemisphere. Other Nephilia species can be even larger and are found in the South Pacific, southeast Asia and Madagascar.
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SWALLOW-TAILED KITE

In this photograph of a swallow-tailed kite in flight, the kite is slightly banking to show the upperside of the body and wings.

Elanoides forficatus - SWALLOW-TAILED KITE

Swallow-tailed kites breed and can be seen throughout Florida and along the southeastern coast of the United States from spring through summer. They winter in much of South America except for Argentina and Chile.
Usually seen soaring along the edges of woods, often near wetlands, they are the largest kites in North America. The distinctive coloring of the white head and body contrasted with the black wings and forked tail make this an easy bird to identify.
Swallow-tailed kites pluck insects, other invertebrates, lizards and even small snakes from the tops of trees and eat while flying. In mid to late summer large numbers of kites will start roosting together before setting off on their migration to South America.
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FLORIDA INDIAN PLANTAIN

This Florida endemic wildflower is also called Florida Cacalia, which is why I call this image of three of the flowers Florida Cacalia Trio.

Florida Cacalia Trio - Arnoglossum floridanum - FLORIDA INDIAN PLANTAIN

Florida Indian Plantain is a frequent plant of sandhills, scrub and pine flatwoods occurring only the the Florida peninsula north of Lake Okeechobee.
The ray florets are lacking on the distinctive flowers of this genus. The most prominent feature of the Arnoglossum floridanum flowers are the five green winged phyllaries of the cylindrical disk florets. Leaves are alternate, strongly veined and oval or broadest near their base. The lowest leaves are crenate and 7 to 9 nerved. Plants can reach over a meter tall with a grooved, glabrous stem branching in the upper part of the plant.
Of the two endemic Arnoglossum, A. floridanum is more widespread than A. album, which is only found in Bay and Gulf Counties.
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