Monday, December 8, 2014

Lignumvitae Key

In my previous posting I wrote about the hammock on this Key.  While in the tropical forest the park ranger pointed out to us the many typical trees of this forest and how they adapt to growing in a dark hammock.  He pointed out to us a young pigeon plum tree which has large shiny green leaves.  Standing next to it was a an older tree of the same species, its leaves were tiny, green and dull in appearance.  As a young tree it grows large leaves to take in a lot of nourishment from the sun and rain so it can grow tall and reach up into the canopy toward the sun.  The strangler fig, another common tree in the hammock, grows on a host tree and strangles other trees around it as it grows.  At Windley Key we saw the roots of that tree in many places, even curling down large limestone walls.  In the same ficus family is the short-leaf fig which drops aerial roots from its branches to avoid competition from other trees for light and land.  One of the oldest of the short-leaf fig trees in the area is found on Lignumvitae
Lignumvitae is the name of another tree, its name means "tree or wood of life".   Native Indians discovered that it has curative powers for arthritis and the common cough.  I know that I have been occasionally been taking a synthetic form of a substance from that tree for years, called guyacam- or, better known as guaifenesin.  The tree can be found on the northwestern corner of the Matheson house.
Also on the grounds of this park is an old windmill, with a platform built at its top.  Currently there is a large nest on it which is the home of an osprey family.  The park ranger said that it is the home of Desi and Lucy who return here every December to start a new family.  One of the parents was sitting on the nest while we were there.
What I have loved about the Keys are the many colorful blooming tropical flowers and trees.  A row of oleander bushes line the path up to the Matheson house.

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