|Slow Down! There really are tortoises in the road!|
So I was really happy when the staff asked me to come back and lead a walk again this fall! But now that I no longer work there every day, it's been necessary for me to take trips there weekly to scope out the trails and chart the beginnings of the fall wildflower display. Not that this is a chore! I should mention for Non-Floridians that here in North Central Florida, our best wildflower displays are in Fall. And one of the best habitats to see wildflowers is the sunny, dry, flat Sandhill. Morningside happens to have wonderful and lovingly managed Sandhill, and the wildflowers are magnificent.
This year the land management staff for the City of Gainesville conducted several summer prescribed fires. This is good and very important to maintain the fire dependent ecosystems of Morningside. The problem is that they burned in some of the places I have come to rely on for easily accessible walks! Some things will grow back in time for the walks later in the month (they will take place every Saturday in October), but mine will be the first Saturday (October 5 at 9am!), and it doesn't appear that the burn areas will have recovered enough for me to lead the walk there. But this is not really a problem. Next year everything will have grown back and the colors will be wonderful. This year, we'll just need to walk a bit further to get to the action!
So this week I made a couple of trips to see how things were progressing. I headed over at noon on Sunday, when my car thermometer said the temperature was 100 Fahrenheit.
From the parking lot I headed towards Sandhill Road (the name itself is promising for good wildflower displays!) As I walked I could hear the racket of the Red Headed Woodpeckers that frequent the picnic area across the road. I could also hear the sounds of the farm animals in the Living History Farm, who were probably getting their Sunday lunch, or maybe they were just calling to me. The woods along the path were still black from the burn, which took place only about a month ago. I could see green peeking from the Saw Palmettos and grasses that were already growing back. The scrub was mostly burned back, making room for the sun and rain to fall on wildflower and grass plants on the forest floor.
|Greening Up After the Burn|
|Ceraunus Blue Butterfly enjoys Pale Meadowbeauty (Rhexia mariana)|
|Spent Flowers of Seedbox (Ludwigia maritima) . When the seed capsule dries, it has an interesting geometric shape.|
You can tip it over and shake seeds out of it, like a little salt shaker.
|Rabbit Tobacco (Pseudognapthalium obtusifolium)|
|Goldenrod (Solidago sp.) and Lovebugs|
|I do believe in Pocket Gophers. I do believe in Pocket Gophers.|
|The Good Stuff|
|Gopher Tortoise Burrow|
|Florida Pinesnake, either going into its burrow, or chowing down on Pocket Gophers. |
Wait--maybe that's why I haven't seen any Gophers!
|The Sandhill, Soon to be in Full Bloom|
|Hairy leaves of Hieracium (Hawkweed)|
|Hairy Basal Rosette of Chrysopsis (Goldenaster)--Another late fall bloom|
|Florida Paintbrush leaves (Carphephorus corymbosus)--well adapted to dry conditions and fire|
|Fewflower Gayfeather (Liatris pauciflora)|
|Florida Toothache Grass (Ctenium floridanum)|
|Shortleaf Gayfeather (Liatris tenuifolia) almost ready to bloom|
|Florida Paintbrush (Carphephorus corymbosus)|
|Crab Spider waiting on Carphephorus bud.|
|Fragrant Eryngium (Eryngium aromaticum)|
|Black Senna (Seymeria pectinata)|
|Elephant's Foot (Elephantopus elatus)|
|Rough Hedge Hyssop (Gratiola hispida)|
|Saw Palmetto Berries (Serenoa repens)|