Curvaceous Pines

!!!!pinus-elliotti-curved
On the way to the annual meeting of the Florida Mosquito Control Association in St. Augustine, John Beidler, retired director of the Indian River Mosquito Control Association & I stopped at a St. Johns River Water Management District Conservation Area. We were pleasantly surprised to find on International Golf Drive the Twelve Mile Swamp Conservation Area. This 21,898-acre pine “plantation” protects a wellfield that provides drinking water for St. Johns County. 378 acres of it are available for conservation accessed via a 2.8 mile loop trail.

Planted pines (Pinus elliotti) line much of the trail & will be harvested by 2025 when the silviculture lease expires. Near the entry kiosk, a few of the pines have abandoned their usual upright growth pattern & curved dramatically.

Wildflowers grow in the sunny conditions along the trail edge, and we were delighted to see lots of silkgrass (Pityopsis graminifolia). Also known as golden aster, this darling daisy (Asteraceae) grows prolifically at the south Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area.

!!!!pityopis-graminifloia-@-12-mile-swamp

Along the trail we also saw a diminutive milkwort, orange milkwort (Polygala lutea).

!!!!polygala-lutea

This tiny milkwort does not grow at Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area, though the similarly-sized  yellow-flowered milkwort called candyroot (Polygala nana) does.

Thank goodness St. Johns River Water Management has purchased lands like this place and the north Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area for preservation.