Is it Rosary Pea..

…or an alien space pod? It is rosary pea (Abrus precatorius) to my best knowledge. As cool as this pod looks, the seeds of the rosary pea are actually more toxic than the infamous ricin. Paired with the fact it is an invasive exotic species here in Florida and you really have a deadly (non-space) invader.

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Scorched Earth

DSC_0551I always thought being a manager of a controlled burn would be quite interesting. Burn a few hundred to thousands of acres of pine flatwoods to simulate the natural fire cycle? Sounds like fun! But, as with everything, there is more to the story which actually makes fire science quit interesting.

I get to see the other side of the burn; the incredibly quick recovery and growth of the areas burned. Its a shame this practice is becoming so difficult due to uninformed homeowners, who ironically built their houses  to be close to nature.

One of the rarest and most endangered plants in Florida..

Deltoid spurge

Viola!

What, were you expecting some grandiose beauty found hanging in an ancient cypress tree, only accessible by wading through the Everglades for three days? Sorry, the deltoid spurge (Chamaesyce deltoidea) has no such story.

The deltoid spurge is only found in the endemic Pine Rockland habitat (which happens to be my personal favorite) found in southern Miami-Dade county. With its habitat reduced by over 98%, there aren’t many places for this diminutive plant to go. Small? Yeah you can say that. The leaves are not too much bigger than the size of a pinhead and unless you know where to look, it is easily stepped right over. What amazes me about this and the other rare plant species found in this area is the fact that most of the plants grow on rock with no soil and little nutrients. This makes for small but incredibly beautiful plants.

When working in these areas I have to keep my eyes peeled, looking at the same spots again and again until these rare, and endangered plants make their presence known. But, their discovery is always an amazing experience since they may not be here when next I come.

PS – One of these days I will get around to showing all of you a real beauty from the Pine Rockland, the Polygala smallii.