What's Happinin' - Around the Island On this incredibly humid and soggy day today the Florida fish and Wildlife conducted a prescribed burn on a few acres of Pine Rockland habitat yesterday off Key Deer Blvd. located on Big Pine Key. This Pine Rockland habitat is essential to some species of plants and animals. Without the burn which is a natural component of our ecology this P. R. habitat would slowly convert to Hardwood Hammock. Not so good.
The area is walked through to ensure no animals are present and when weather conditions are right they begin the burn. The conditions were perfect yesterday with high humidity and low wind. The fungus on my orchids liked the weather too. Here we have a Sable Palm, an unusual species for the Pine Rocklands. An enterprising bird picked just the right spot to deposit this seed. This image shows the far more common Brittle Thatch Palm( Thrinax morrissii) and the resulting char from this quickly moving fire. At one time it was said that hwen transplanting Brittle Thatch you should flame the cut root ends to simulate fire. This practise never worked for me as all my transplants just died. The story of my life.
What's Growin'-Palms Brittle Thatch Palm(Thrinax morrisii) is an uncommon palm elsewhere is a common tree on the pine rocklands of Big Pine Key.
This slow growing endangered species is not a tall palm with extreme specimens reaching 20’. The berries are a favorite food of the Key Deer.
It has a characteristically rough trunk with the frond bases not persistent but falling away as the tree matures. A very difficult palm to transplant but nice as a low specimen plant or in a group. What's Flyin'-Birds Our summertime visitors, the White-Crowned Pigeon(Patagioenas leucocephala), are becoming fewer and fewer. They arrive in late April or early May feasting on the ripe fruit of the Poisonwood tree, Blolly and Randia. Local lore says they do show the effects of fermented berries sometimes crashing through the trees in a drunken frenzy. They are a timid bird that is very difficult to approach but fortunately show a preference to sitting on solitary branches. This fine bird suffered from hunting in the early part of the century. They are only found in the Florida Keys, sporadically in South Florida and the Caribbean.
Another Labor Day has come and gone with me doing almost no labor…sweet. I did plant some Waltham broccoli seeds and planted a couple Pitch Apples that we got at a free plant give away. Nothing like free plants. What’s Growin’- Vegetables I took a quick pic of my compost pile this one is just a bit smaller than the one I used to make my potting mix for the veg. garden .
What’s Growin’- Natives The Lignum Vitae, one of two in our yard is showing seed. Every year I say I should start seed but the darn things are so slow growing that I always say forget it. Sure do love the flowers when the tree blooms though. Lignum Vitae is an EXTREMELY dense and hard wood, so much so that it is used for mallet heads and blocks for the ships of yore.
What’s Bloomin’-Tropicals Couple pix of some Dendrobiums growing in the buttonwoods along the driveway. I have very good luck with sticking Dendrobiums in the trees especially as opposed to Phals. Vandas do pretty well also but Oncidiums seem to want more care than I’m willing to give.
What's Bloonin'-Native The Pitch Apple(Clusia rosea) goes by a couple common names including Balsam Aplle and Autograph Tree. If you carve your name in the thick leathery leaves they will stay on the tree for many months to come. It is said that the pirates of old used the leaves as playing cards.
The seed pod contains small red seeds and is surrounded by a black resinous substance that was at one time used to caulk the seams of boats hence the name Pitch Apple
The bud opens with white and pink petals that later turn brown.
The seed pod is a tough poisonous applelike structure.
Barn swallows have stopped in in the beginnig of the annual migration. They can be seen wheeling about the sky in seach of insect meals each morning and evening.