In the Mangroves (and my 2nd Blogiversary!)

In tidal regions along the Indian River, mangrove trees form forests of varying height and density. There are 4 local species, but Rhizophora mangle (aka Red Mangrove) is the most recognizable with its long “stilt” roots arcing downward from the trunk and branches:

Rhizophora mangle, Lagoon Greenway, 11/17/13Maintaining the health of mangrove communities ensures the overall health of the surrounding ecosystem. Airborne roots from one Red Mangrove intertwine with the next to stabilize the coastline and create habitats for estuarine life.

On my latest visit, I noticed several species I’d never seen before.  The first was the Mangrove Skipper, aka Phocides pigmalion okeechobee

Phocides pigmalion okeechobee, Lagoon Greenway, 11/17/13Mangrove Skippers emerge from November to April :arrow: which explains why this one looks so perfect…it just finished pupating! :) Seen from above, their wingspan is approximately 2.5″ and brownish-black with iridescent blue scaling; the hindwing tapers into a small, stubby tail with a submarginal row of faint light blue spots.

If I hadn’t looked down exactly when I did, I might have missed the next species:  Southern Needleleaf Airplant aka Tillandsia setacea:

Tillandsia setacea, Lagoon Greenway, 11/17/13

T. setacea, one of our 16 native bromeliads, is commonly found in the crooks of trees. In Springtime, they send up several inflorescences with tiny violet blooms at each tip. Look toward the lefthand side of the photo and note the dry remains of one such flower.

I’m not entirely sure about the grasses in the next picture….

Possible Bushy Bluestem grass, Lagoon Greenway, 11/17/13

….but I’m leaning toward Bushy Bluestem aka Andropogon glomeratus.  Perhaps a more knowledgable reader will point me in the right direction? :)

And on that note, I must say a HUGE “thank you!!” to everyone who followed, commented or liked any of the 264 posts I’ve written in the past two years!!  Today marks my second blogiversary and I am so, SO appreciative!

Until next time…..

:) :) :)

Seen on the nature trail….

Vero Beach is home to the Greenway, a 3mi. nature trail that loops through oak forests and wetlands alongside the Indian River Lagoon.  While walking there Sunday, I photo-graphed an oak log totally covered in mushroom-like growths. Trametes versicolor on oak log, Lagoon Greenway, 11/17/13When I got home, I ran straight to Google :arrow: turns out I’d seen Trametes versicolor, a polypore (bracket fungus) seen mostly on sick or decaying hardwood trees.  In the next photo, you’ll see why this fungi’s fruiting body is commonly called “Turkey Tail:” Ball moss atop  T. versicolor fungi, Lagoon Greenway, 11/17/2013 T. versicolor’s banding pattern resembles the tail of a strutting turkey!  Most are dark to light brown, alternating with light colored bands of white to tan, with still more bands of blue, gray, orange or maroon. They can be strikingly beautiful, and are among the fungi most easily observed in the wild. Unlike their mushroom “cousins” that disappear quickly, Turkey Tails are leathery and long-lived, with some shelves lasting an entire year.

In addition to being a prolific fruiter, T. versicolor is found in every state of the U.S. and almost every region of the world, including Siberia.  Traditional Asian medicine has long used this fungus in the fight against cancer by extracting polysaccharide K (PSK) and polysaccharide-peptide (PSP) from the fruiting bodies. Studies show both substances boost cancer patients’ immune systems when used in conjunction with traditional medicine, sometimes doubling life expectancy!  Research is ongoing.

To learn more about this Thanksgiving themed fungus, visit Mushroomexpert.com.

Until next time…. Eat-Beef-Turkey

Wordless Wednesday: October 24, 2012

Sometimes the sun is “just right,” illuminating things you might otherwise miss:

Spider Web between T.utriculatas in the bauhinia, Oct. 24, 2012

This spiderweb was so loonnggg……

Spiderweb, October 24, 2012

Attached to every air plant in the crooks of my backyard tree:

Spider Web attached to Bromeliads in the Bauhinia tree

Until next time…..

:) :)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Summer

With average January temps in the balmy 70s, it’s hard to think of summers here being less than year-round; especially when you ring in New Year’s Eve (and Day!) lying on the beach!  But while the seasons may be indistinct, the same cannot be said of our sunsets :arrow: no time of year are they more dramatic than now, when heat and humidity are at their highest!  Take a look:

A May Summer Sunset in Vero Beach

May 4th, 2012, Sunset in Vero Beach

Vero Beach Power Plant at Sunset, May 4, 2012

I snapped this sequence as we crossed the Loy Bridge from the island to the mainland, in very early May.  It was extremely hot and muggy, the bank of clouds a threatening  army on a west to east advance.  These pictures show the passing jet stream disturbance, a battlezone between clouds above and the clear, narrow strip below along the horizon.

From May through September, sunsets like this are a near-to-daily event in Vero Beach.   Sometimes the clouds bring rain, other times they don’t…but they always reflect beauty in the setting of a summer sun

Until next time……

:)