Wild Florida Photo
Nature Photography by Paul Rebmann
Featured is a close-up image of the inflorescence of a sweet acacia tree showing the multitude of stamens.
Sweet acacia is an occasional shrub or small tree of shell middens, coastal hammocks, pinelands and disturbed sites mostly in south and southwest Florida with scattered occurrences in central Florida and the panhandle. Also native in the southern tier of states from Georgia to California, plus Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. It is an introduced non-native in Hawaii.
Growing up to about twenty feet tall with many slightly zig-zag branches armed with pairs of whitish thorns which are actually spinescent stipules. The alternate leaves are bipinnately compound and 3/4 to 4 inches in overall length. There are two to six pairs of pinnae each with ten to 25 pairs of linear leaflets each 1/8 to 1/4 inch long. The flowers are a globular cluster 3/8 - 1/2 inch in diameter appearing at the end of stalks up to almost an inch long. The fruit is a dark purplish-red cylindrical pod two to just over three inches long with a blunt tip.
The genus Acacia was the largest genus in the pea (Fabaceae) family, encompassing around 1500 species occurring in Australia, Asia, Africa and the Americas. In 2011 the 17th International Botanical Congress accepted a reclassification of these species, reserving the name Acacia for the largest group, about 900 species native to Australia. The species that were recently considered Acacia that are native to Florida with capitate inflorescences (round, head-like flowers) and spinescent stipules are now in the genus Vachellia. Therefore, sweet acacia, which was Acacia farnesiana is now Vachellia farnesiana var. farnesiana.
Soras can be found in marshes throughout Florida in the winter. The non-breeding range also includes the southern coasts of the United States, the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America. Breeding range (April-July) spans much of the lower half of Canada, the northern United States plus the western mountain states south into Arizona and New Mexico. Migration includes all those states in between breeding and non-breeding. Also called Carolina rails, they are the most abundant and widespread rails in North America.
These birds look somewhat like skinny tiny chickens. The feather pattern is mottled gray and brown with white edged feathers. Distinctive is the yellow bill and black face patch and throat. Females are drabber, with less black on the face and throat. Juveniles have no black face mask. The legs are a greenish yellow.