Monday, January 12, 2015

Flora in Six-Mile Cypress Slough

Our guide for our walk through this slough surprised me by commenting that spring is starting here.  We had just walked past many pond and bald cypress trees, which now have their leaves gone.  As we walked into higher elevations of the park, where there are oak, willow, and elm trees he pointed out the new leaves which are coming out on those trees.  Maybe if I lived here the whole year, the seasons would make sense to me!   Speaking of seasons, Russ pointed out to us some air plants, or epiphytes which are starting to bloom.
Members of the epiphyte family include orchids, mosses, and bromeliads.  Pictured above is a cardinal bromeliad.  Not only did we see a wide variety of epiphytes, but there are also many varieties of ferns in the slough.  Our guide pointed out the leather, royal, Boston ferns, as well as the unusual whisk and shoestring ferns.  The latter is pictured below, it is the darker line which looks like spaghetti,  right in the center of the picture.  It is endangered, and can only be found on the cabbage palm.
There are a few wild flowers out now in the slough, as the coreopsis and a variety of daisies.  In the water we saw one water hyacinth blooming, it is considered an invasive of Florida. 
The plant is native to the Amazon basin, it can be beneficial as it absorbs pollutants.  However, the plant has a tendency to entirely cover lakes and ponds, starving them of oxygen and water- which kills off fish and turtles.  Another blooming plant in the water at this time is the duck potato.
In the picture above the white flower of the duck potato can be seen in about the center of the picture.The tubers of the plant are edible and was important for the diet of indigenous people.  Reportedly it taste like a potato.  In this posting, as well as the previous one, I have just shown specific plants, birds, and reptiles.  Maybe I should conclude with just one general picture of the slough,  it is certainly a wildly beautiful place. After our guided tour John and I returned to the slough to explore the parts of it which our tour did not cover.  That included included a third pond where more birds, turtles and an alligator were enjoying the sun which finally had come out.  We were finally able to shed our jackets! 

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