Big Burl

big burl @ sisp copy
Karen Schuster (Class of 2009), Indian River Photo Club Secretary, sent me marvelous photos from the Dune to Lagoon walk led by Dr. Jay Barnhart at Sebastian Inlet State Park on Saturday, 4/19/2014, including this picture of a gorgeous gall on a gumbo limbo tree (Bursera simarouba). A burl is a rounded outgrowth on a tree trunk or branch, often caused by stress from an injury, virus, or fungus. Burl wood is prized for its interesting grain.

Pretty “pinked” leaves adorn this rouge plant (Rivina humilis) likely stressed by cold, wind, and/or sun …
rivinia humilis copy

Strangler fig roots (Ficus aurea) proved photogenic …
ficus aureum roots copy

Supple and unstressed was this new frond of the epiphytic cabbage palm fern (Phlebodium aureum) …
phlebodium frond copy

Looks like the group had a great time …
group photo copy

Many thanks to Karen Schuster for sharing her fabulous photos!

Nonpareils (plants) For Easter ?

!melanthera-nivea---single-flowerYou may be familiar with the yummy chocolate candies called nonpareils. Nonpareil plant is an alternative common name for snow squarestem (Melanthera nivea).

Its scientific name also refers to its coloration: melanthera refers to its black anthers, and nivea means snow white. The growth habit of this plant can be quite variable. Volunteer Doug Sutherland photographed it on our Sunday walk at Captain Forster Preserve on 3/16/14 …
Melanthera nivea @cfp by Doug Sutherland
We saw it last year at the Maritime Hammock in Brevard County take the form of a low-growing mat in sunny, dry places …
… as well as an upright form in wetter spots …
Its rough foliage is quite distinctive …
It reportedly can be grown easily from seed …
Also known as salt & pepper plant, this lovely wildflower is quite attractive to butterflies, bees, and other pollinators. Tolerant of a wide variety of conditions, this wonderful wildflower – with multiple common names – would serve us well as a landscape plant.

That Fungus is Galling!

Dr. Jay Barnhart, retired Miami Dade forensic pathologist and self-described mycophile, gave a marvelous talk for the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory – Pelican Island Audubon Society volunteer group entitled, What is this Fungus Among Us? Class begin with an impressive show & tell table …
With deft humor and fabulous photos, Dr. Barnhart told us about the morphology of mushrooms and their life cycle and identified many mysterious natural oddities including slime mold (which we saw on our walk), lichens, and galls caused by fungi.

Galls can be made by a variety of living organisms, including insects, mites, nematode, bacteria & even fungi like this grand-looking gall on coastal plain staggerbush (Lyonia fruticosa) caused by the fungus, Exobasidium vaccine
Diane LaRue and Jean ‘JJ’ Romano were very pleased that Dr. Barnhart identified some of the fungi that they see ‘off the beaten path’, when they work to control invasive plants at the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area …
Dr. Barnhart recommended the mushroom expert website and offered to asset with ID if you would like to send him pictures.

Oslo Road – Spring Wildflowers!

A bounty of spring wildflowers bloom along the roadside of Oslo Road to the east of US Highway 1 in the vicinity of the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area, including lots of lyre-leaved sage (Salvia lyrata) and oak leaf fleabane (Erigeron quercifolious) pictured above.
Spikes of blue flowers issue forth from the basal rosettes of lyre-shaped leaves that give this plant its common name and often are tinged with maroon markings …
The small tubular flowers of this square stemmed member of the mint family, Laminaceae, are quite attractive to butterflies, including this swallowtail that did not want to pose for the camera …
Amongst these blue spikes grow the daisy flowers (Asteracea) of oak leaf fleabane, an annual plant often found growing in moist places along roadsides …
Opening buds are quite sweet …
At lower, wetter locations grow the wonderful white flowers of star rush (Rhyncospora colorata)…
This plant is commonly known as white-topped sedge or stars a bursting …
Inter-mixed are the purple flowers of the tiny iris, commonly known as blue-eyed grass (Sisirynchium atlanticum). Volunteer Diane LaRue tells that this lovely little wildflower also grows near her home in Nova Scotia …
Nature produces wonderful wildflower displays that are difficult to replicate, but we can try … On Saturday, March 14, 2015, Kim Zarillo, Treasurer of the Florida Native Plant Society, will give a wildflower workshop in the Audubon Center that is presently under construction. Please ‘save’ the date!

Mangrove buckeye

!mangrove-buckeye-@-trwtThis mangrove buckeye butterfly (Junonia evarete) posed for me at the Toni Robinson Waterfront Trail. The larval food for this butterfly is black mangrove (Avicennia germinans):
As a result, you will see this butterfly in open areas near mangroves and salt marshes.

Below is a photo of a mangrove buckeye at the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area on a female saltbush (Baccharis halimifolia) in flower, so you know that it must be a fall photo:
Note the bee nectaring on pollinator-attracting plant at the bottom of the picture.

Thanks to the Thompsons

Thanks to Joyce and Dave Thompson who hosted us a their home following our walk at the Captain Forster Preserve. Their gracious hospitality always is appreciated at what has become an annual event.

Birder Doug Sutherland pictured seated next to fellow birder Susan Boyd provided the following bird & butterfly list for our walk …

Carolina Wren, Osprey, Fish Crow, Black Vulture, Black-and-white Warbler & Northern Cardinal, plus Zebra Longwing & Gulf Fritillary butterflies.

Lots of coral bean was in bloom …

Snow square stem: Pollinator candy

Snow squarestem (Melanthera nivea) flowered along the wide main trail at Captain Forster Preserve on our walk yesterday, attracting bevies of pollinators including this carpenter bee. Note the black anthers on the wonderful white flowers.

These bees also liked the flowers of this not-so-common wildflower …

This 110-acre property reaches from the Indian River Lagoon to the Atlantic Ocean, where the happy group paused before enjoying hospitality at the home of Joyce and Dave Thompson …


Common? Spiderwort

On our walk at the Toni Robinson Waterfront Trail that began at 1:30pm, Nancy Soucy, Class of 2010, pointed out common spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis) but was disappointed that the flowers were not looking their finest. Also known as Ohio spiderwort, this plant, which grows the eastern U.S., is an ‘early bird’: Its flowers close up by early afternoon on sunny days.

These pictures were taken in our yard, where this plant flourishes and blooms throughout much of the year. Note all of the flower buds and the inconspicuous grass-like foliage. You also will find this pretty plant growing along roadsides and flourishing in disturbed areas.

False oriental hawksbeard

!Youngia japonica
Edel Livermore, who is the 2013 Grand Harbor Volunteer of the Year & who took our class in 2011, brought a plant for ID to the Toni Robinson Waterfront Trail walk. Lo & behold, the plant, pictured above, was on the trail. It is False Oriental hawksbeard (Youngia japonica).

!Youngia japonica 2
This annual or biennial plant reportedly re-seeds readily, often becoming a problem in nursery pots. It likes to ‘volunteer’ in yards.

Toni Robinson Waterfront Trail

Nancy Soucy, Class of 2010, led a wonderful walk for our group at the Toni Robinson Waterfront Trail, an Indian River Lagoon property purchased for preservation by the Indian River Land Trust. Access is located on the east side of Highway U.S. 1 off of 79th Street, and you can visit from dawn to dusk.

The property includes a dock and an impressive wooden boardwalk constructed through a mangrove canopy by the prior landowner. Linda and Sam Chancellor provide scale …

Ken Gonyo poses on the dock …

23 folks, not all pictured here at the end of the walk, joined in the fun …

Nancy Soucy pointed out a variety of wildflowers, including beggarticks (Bidens alba) …

… hairy cowpea vine (Vigna luteola) …

… and star rush (Rynchospora colorata) …

Doug Sutherland (Class of 2013), who kept a bird and butterfly list for the walk, poses with Nancy, Jean Romano (Class of 2013) and Gayle Lafferty (Class of 2012) …