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Posts from the ‘Florida Ecosystems / Trees’ Category

Tree Tuesday: Flatwoods to Swamp

Often on hikes through the South Florida pine flatwoods, you’ll stumble across other ecosytems. The flatwood environment itself is layered, with high canopies of pines, a lower shrubby layer, and an herbaceous layer — but it’s dotted with cypress domes (a cypress swamp in the shape of a dome), prairies, marshes, and other habitats. Truly a fascinating ecosystem.

Unfortunately, developers continue to find flatwoods attractive for development: the vast expanses of flat land are too tempting, as is the ease in cutting and clearing its enormous swaths. But it’s critical to remember all the life this land supports — as well as the various other habitats that are intricately woven together here.

Pine Flatwoods of Jonathan Dickinson State Park, Florida

Pine flatwoods vista

Slash Pine of the Atlantic Ridge Preserve State Park, Florida

Slash Pine: Ready for my close-up

Flatwoods to Swamp Along the Florida Trail, Florida

Heading from the flatwoods into the swamp, along the Florida Trail

Cypress Trees in the Swamp, Florida Everglades

Ever-lovely cypress of the swamp

A New Trail, Seabranch Preserve State Park, Florida

From flatwood, to prairie, to….

And an extra for Tree Tuesday — I can’t get enough of this cartoon….


Tree Tuesday: The Palm, in Retro

Palm and coconut trees have surrounded me throughout my life — first in Florida, then overseas in the South Pacific, and then again in Florida. As children, my brother and I took hammers and screwdrivers to coconuts we’d salvage from the trees on the island, in a valiant effort to break them open. It’s a wonder that more serious injuries weren’t committed. My poor mother.

So in honor of the ever-flexible and almighty palm, bending amid hurricane-force winds and not just surviving, but thriving…. Here are a few retro images. I blew one up for my mother, another military (Navy) brat who spent time at Punahou School on Oahu as a child.

Retro Palm Tree, Florida

Retro Palm Tree, Florida

Retro Palm Tree, Florida

Retro Palm Tree, Florida

Tree Tuesday: Cypress of the Marsh

A snapshot of cypress trees lining a beautiful marsh along the Owahee Trail of Grassy Waters Preserve.

Now protected by various federal and state agencies, these amazing trees were completely logged out in the 1930s and ’40s in Florida — only a scant few original trees survived the logging operations of this time. Most seen today are 7th- or 8th-generation cypress. But if untouched, they could live to 500 years.

Cypress Trees Along the Owahee Trail in Grassy Waters Preserve, FL

The Gentlemen

Tree Tuesday: Fairy’s Staircase

Walking the Malachite Trail in the SWA portion of the most wonderfully pristine Everglades watershed of the Grassy Waters Preserve, an old tree displayed new life with a whimsical fungi arrangement — a fairy staircase!

fairy tree

2013-01-13 14.51.23 copy


It’s World Wetlands Day!

Hikers Across the World Celebrate World Wetlands Day

Hikers honor World Wetlands Day in Israel in 2012; their poster announces “Ramsar day — Israel 2012,” and features a recently-discovered endemic species, the Hula Painted Frog. Courtesy Wikipedia.

It’s hard not to be passionate about the celebration of  World Wetlands Day, since all of what you see on this blog, the unique landscapes and its wonderful critters — are dependent on wetland ecosystems! Officially February 2, World Wetlands Day is an international celebration of the planet’s marshes, swamps, and bogs. It marks the anniversary of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands, called the Ramsar Convention, on February 2, 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar. World Wetlands Day was first celebrated in 1997, and since then government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and citizens all over the world have aimed to raise public awareness of the critical value and intrinsic benefits of wetland ecosystems.

World Wetlands Day Poster, 2013

World Wetlands Day Poster, 2013

World Wetlands Day 2013, from the Ramsar / World Wetlands Day Website (Click to download poster)

Despite the growing awareness of this unique ecosystem, there are sobering threats facing the survival of our wetlands:

    • A 2011 federal study estimated the U.S. lost 62,300 acres of wetlands between 2004-2009 — a loss rate 140% higher than from 1998-2004
    • Wetland habitat has now been cut within the contiguous U.S. to 110 million acres…. And those surviving wetlands face dangers like hypoxia due to water pollution and invasive species. Pythons and melaleuca in the Everglades (among a host of other destructive non-native species), and nutria in New Orleans continue to ravage the structure of this ecosystem
    • Wetlands are extremely sensitive, and are counted as one of the most vulnerable ecosystems subject to climate change
    • Wetlands residents have suffered terribly due to increased habitat loss. Throughout Florida for example — just to pick one critter — we witnessed a dramatic decrease in the populations of the already-endangered Wood storks, due to the decline and destruction of their homes, as well as what many believe to be extreme weather patterns (dry winter / wet winter) in the last few years. Like so many other wetlands-dependent species, the disappearance of the Wood stork would signal the loss of a crucial component of our wetlands. But it’s not all doom-and-gloom for this gentleman stork, as he appears to have returned this year — hoorah! Fingers crossed that our healthy wetlands will maintain their nests — and that awareness and education will help other species (though perhaps not quite as handsome as my gentleman, below).
Wood Stork in the Florida Wetlands

Wood stork at home in the wetlands

Wood Stork in Flight, Rookery Trail, West Palm Beach, Florida

Wood stork returning to its nest

There’s much that can be done to restore and protect this vital habitat — check out your local resources, visit your neighboring natural areas, and above else, LOVE YOUR WETLANDS and their amazing inhabitants!

The theme for the 2013 World Wetlands Day is Wetlands Take Care of Water. Wetlands provide critical functions, including groundwater replenishment, water purification, flood control, and nutrient storage. They also offer biodiversity, if allowed to flourish. But their health depends on the quality and quantity of the water that reaches them.

For more information, visit World Wetlands Day 2013


Visit Mother Nature Network’s article Happy World Wetlands Day, in which our very own Green Cay Wetlands is highlighted!

Wading Friends at the Cypress Creek Natural Area, Jupiter, Florida

Friends of flight at the Cypress Creek Natural Area in Jupiter

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