Sunday, May 31, 2009

ocala national forest part 2

This ecosystem happens to be one of my personal favorites, and has been for some time now.  Yet, it is highly endangered due to fire suppression, over grazing, urban sprawl, and timbering.  It is actually one of the most endangered ecosystems on Earth.  Florida is a very unique place not only for the Everglades in the Southern portion of the state, but also because of these Longleaf pine sandhills, which were once very prevalent in North/Central Florida.  These communities have been reduced to 3% of their original range.
Sandhills occur on hilltops and slopes of gently rolling hills of sand.  The soil is very sandy, dry, and nutrient poor.  These soils are composed of deep, marine deposited yellowish sand which is well drained and relatively sterile.  The leached nutrients are brought back to the surface by the burrowing habits of some animals.  Fires is a dominant factor in the ecology of this community.  They are a fire climax community, being dependent on frequent low-intensity ground fires to reduce hardwood competition and to perpetuate pines and grasses dominant in these habitats.  The dominant plant species in this community are dependent on fire every 2-8 years to induce flowering, such as in wire grass (Aristida stricta).  Without frequent fires, sandhills may eventually succeed to xeric hammock (dry, hardwood forests), and dominated by turkey oak (Quercus laevis).

Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) Sandhill ecosystem

Longleaf pine Sandhill

Stylisma abdita (Showy dawn flower), Convolvulaceae (Morning glory Family)
This plant is extremely difficult to see if not in flower due to its thin, inconspicuous leaves.  It is also extremely rare due to habitat destruction.

Stillingia sylvatica (Queen's delight)

Croton argyranthemus (Healing croton)
*This plant exudes a clearish/yellow sap which can be used as an antiseptic on wounds.

Yucca flaccida (Adam's needle)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

change, change, change

A friend moved away today.  The first of many.  Well, not exactly the very first.  Several have moved away before and while it was sad, it was oddly different.  This is a mark of the beginning of a transitional period for me.  Part of me would like to remain stagnant in this space I've created here.  


Yet, even if I remain still, the rest of the world will not.  It will continue to morph and transform into something new every second of every day.  Whether I participate in that transformation or not.  Coming to terms with this newness is going to be difficult.  And I often question if I'm strong enough to take on this challenge.  I'll have to be.  There is always something to learn from every experience.  The good.  The bad.  The ugly.  The profoundly beautiful.

It's happening.  Embrace it.  Play with it.  Make it into your own.  Be excited about the new experiments and discoveries lying just around the bend.  New surprises and adventures.  Words of wisdom I'm having a difficult time swallowing.

Hello, new stage of life.
Hello, new chapter.
Hello, first careers.  Real jobs.  Salaries.
Hello, friends' weddings.
Hello, children.
Hello, next phase of the journey.

World, please be patient with me.  I'm just a little scared.

Friday, May 29, 2009

ocala national forest

Cladina evansii ("deer moss" acutally a lichen)

Ceratiola ericoides (Florida rosemary)

Persea humilis (Scrub bay/silk bay) 

Quercus myrtifolia (myrtle oak)
Fun fact:  Q. myrtifolia acorns are the favorite food and the tree is the favorite nesting material of the Florida scrub jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens)

Rhynchospora megalocarpa (sandyfield beadsedge)

Sand pine (Pinus clausa) scrub ecosystem

Sabal etonia (Scrub palmetto)

Lyonia ferruginea (Rusty lyonia)
Fun fact:  The 'rusty' color of the leaves is actually due to small scale like hairs.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

natural area teaching lab (NATL)

Centrosema virginianum (Climbing Butterfly pea)

Rubus cuneifolius (blackberry)

Ipomoea pandurata (Man-of-the-Earth; morning glory family)


Sapium sebiferum (Chinese tallow tree)

Betula nigra (River birch)

Cephalanthus occidentalis (button bush)

Cyperss sp. (sedge)

Juncus effusus (soft rush)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

house guest

About a week or so ago I was on my way out the door when I spotting this little friend on the stairs.  I thought she was dead and it made me a bit sad because she was so beautiful, but also a bit happy because I could give her to Erin.  I ran inside to grab something to scoop her up with.  During the scooping process she protested by fluttered in my face.  I, of course, screamed because she startled me.  I was under the impression she was dead.  I then spent the next 15 minutes chasing her around the stair well only to fail in my attempts at capture.  There was much giggling though.  I need a butterfly net.  I then decided that I didn't like the idea of killing her anyway.  We made a deal.  If she was dead and there when I got home, she would donate her body to science/art.  Fair enough.

Actias luna (Luna moth)

She wasn't there when I returned.  Somethings just aren't meant to be.  I do hope she comes to visit again soon.  Or at least sends some friends.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

cedar key part 2

Many Uca pugilator (sand fiddler).  I wanted to name them all and make them my army.

Uca pugilator (male)

Avicennia germinans (black mangrove)

Borrichia frutescens (seaside oxeye)

Borrichia frutescens with what I believe to be Ascia monuste (great southern white) due to the habitat I found it in and the plants it was pollinating.  

I used the National Audubon Society Field Guide to Florida to identify the sand fiddler crab and the great southern white butterfly.  I love this guide for its glossy, color pictures that help me identify things I'm not specialized to identify.

Friday, May 22, 2009

cedar key

Yesterday I went with my Local Flora class to Cedar Key for some good old fashioned hands on learning.  There was copious quantities of mud, fiddler crabs and awesome plants.  I've been to Cedar Key before and knew must of the flora there already, but it was nice to go out and play with the excuse of being productive.

Baccharis halimifolia (Saltbrush/Groundsel tree)

Serenoa repens (saw palmetto)

Batis maritima (saltwort) and Spartina alterniflora (saltmarsh cordgrass)

Batis maritima

Thursday, May 21, 2009

river styx part 2

Yucca aloifolia (Spanish bayonet)

Unidentified roadside plant

River Styx

Asteraceae (sunflower family); unidentified

Sambucus nigra (elderberry) or Cicuta maculata (water hemlock)

River Styx

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

river styx

It didn't bother me that the rain was never ending.  In fact, I felt yesterday was a perfect day for some exploring.  I went alone, and am very happy I did it.  I used to be so afraid to be by myself.  I couldn't handle it.  Now, I occasionally seek it out.  I've never gone off into the woods by myself though.  Probably because I'm a small woman and have been socialized to fear such an experience.  I conquered that fear yesterday.  Being alone with such beauty was uplifting.  Just me and some amazing plants.  Learning to the soundtrack of the rain on the river.  Don't fret.  I was careful.  The ever looming danger of water moccasins kept me alert and on my toes.  Only real frustration was with my camera... a new one will be my next major purchase I suppose.  But even that was not enough to disrupt the moment.  

While walking through the floodplain forest I couldn't help but think about dinosaurs.  An abundance of ferns typically makes me think of such things.  How awesome would it have been to come across a stegosaurus?  

I came across some bones of what appeared to be a deer.  Possibly from a hunting dump.  The downside to the backwoods of North Central Florida.  Last time I was out in the field I came across a huge carcass dump of wild boar and deer.  Possibly from illegal poaching.  Not only was the smell terrible, the sight was unnerving.  The bones I found yesterday were clean and had been there quite some time.  I thought about taking them for my sister, but instead decided to leave them.  The outline of the animal's last resting place was oddly peaceful, and not something I wanted to disturb.  I felt a strange sense of balance and order.  So I let it be.

The samples I did take were thoughtfully picked.  I brought about 20 specimens back and am currently pressing them for my herbarium.  My samples from this past fall are finally dry and ready for mounting.  This is the most patient I've ever been with a project.  Which is lucky because I don't have the fancy drying equipment they have in the herbarium on campus.  I'm sure I could use it, but I really love the independence of my makeshift press and system.  I'm very happy with the specimens so far.  Pictures of the progress soon to follow.  Until then, enjoy the fruits of my solitary adventure on what I considered a beautiful day.

Taxodium distichum (bald cypress)

Woodwardia virginica (Virginia chain fern) fiddle head center

Floodplain forest

Saururus cernuus (lizard's tail)


Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Sculptress: Tangle no.427

Check out Erin's latest sculpture.  It's amazing, and I can't wait to go see it!

She's worked so hard on this piece and I'm so happy to see such a stunning finished product.

Monday, May 18, 2009

new love

Proof that if you do enough complaining and whining, sometimes people listen.  For my birthday/early graduation I received this little beauty.  It's a Trek 1.2 Women's Specific Design.  Nameless as of yet, mostly because she's so bad ass she needs an equally bad ass name.  To learn more about her details/specifications check out the Trek website.

Dad and I took her out for a spin on the Suncoast Trail yesterday for a quick trip.  She's amazing.  I'm so lucky and loved.  I can't even describe how happy I am about acquiring this new bike.  I would have been fine with another used bike, but this... I couldn't ask for more.  I'm a well kept woman.  No getting around that.

Dad was also telling me yesterday about Aquaman races.  They are triathlons minus the running.  Which is perfect for me since my bum ankle doesn't allow me to run anymore.  So far they are only at the Ironman distances but its only a matter of time before they make them on the smaller sprint levels.  I can do the sprints now, I just need to be part of a relay team or convince someone to do the run portion.  Oh and I need to get into shape... even though round is a shape, it's not one I like being in.  


On a different note, Friday I had my first interview of the long job hunt process.  It went well, even though I don't feel I'm going to be hired, it was a wonderful experience.  The non-profit was Corporate Accountability International.  They do wonderful work on several campaigns against corporate abuse of food/health, water, and tobacco use.  I would have been most interested in working on the water campaign but that wasn't what I was interviewed to work on.  Back to the drawing board.  I'm just happy to be re-energized about this process.

Friday, May 15, 2009

circles and tea kettles

The following pieces by artist Jeff Lewis remind me several beloved activities: cloud gazing and playing with buttons.  If you stare long enough you see different images and patterns.  They shift slowly after a while, taking on new manifestations of the imagination.  Much like the dots in your eyes after a bright flash of a forced photo.  Only these don't fade away after several minutes, but linger encouraging the viewer to let time stand still in a dream like trance.  The abstract and seemingly random placement of circles feels like a pile of buttons strewn across some sort of surface.  I feel a sudden urge to organize and categorize.  To arrange and rearrange based on hue, size, shape... a glimpse of OCD tendencies.

Back to work.