Category Archives: Florida native wildflowers

Massed blooms: lavender and white on Womack Creek – May 11, 2018

28-P1100217

This is a great year for swamp dragon head.   They are now blooming everywhere there is sunshine:  on dead tree falls with soil, in the back swamps beyond the trees, in sunny patches along the creek.

In huge masses, they diminish the swamp roses.   But those more demure blooms have a greater over reach  — you can smell their cinnamon-sweet smell before you see them. Here, surrounded by narrow leaf primrose.

18-P1100172

Butterflies and bees are attracted to the nectar of the swamp dragon head.

31-P110023541-P110027033-P110023862-P1100323

Soon, the arrow head blossoms will be in full bloom — they are heavily in bud throughout the creek.

20-P110018119-P1100179

In other areas, with its strong sweet scent, the sweet bays are blooming.

08-P1100106

Now blooming on Womack Creek, Tate’s Hell SF – May 4, 2018

09-P1090823

Cow creek spiderlily, an endemic species found only in Liberty, Franklin and Wakulla counties, Florida, is at peak bloom.  Next week, it will be in seed.

But continuing its bloom and its fragrance are swamp roses, throughout the creek.

24-P1090907

Little purple bells, hanging from vines throughout the creek, swamp leatherflower, Clematis crispa, are now in full bloom.  Buds indicate that they will be blooming for several more weeks, at a minimum.

03-P1090812

Late spring, early summer colors are bolder:  golden-yellows, blues and purples — narrow-leaf primrose, spatterdock, blue flag iris, pickerel weed. candy root.

And, already in massed blooming, but greater density promised next week, false dragonhead blossoms.

Soon also to be blooming in large masses, lizard tail.

False indigo continues its long bloom period.

Very early in the season, climbing aster are already blooming at the mouth of the river.  These flowers, in large masses throughout the river and also along Crooked River and upper Ochlockonee, will continue blooming till late fall.

12-P1090846

Green fly orchids, one of our favorite flowers, continue to bloom and new bud stems are appearing which promises flowering for another few more weeks.

36-P109095839-P1090973

The next masses of white blossoms will be arrow head, heavily budded shrubs throughout the creek.

33-P1090944

Late spring flowers starting to bloom – Womack Creek, April 24, 2018

Within a week and for about a week after, expect the heavy scent of blooming sweet bay.   They will overpower the lighter, cinnamon scent of the swamp roses which are now blooming on bushes throughout the creek.

Finally, the clematis crispa vines are bearing buds and flowers.  This black swallowtail butterfly was taking its fill of nectar from a bloom.   With the pinxster azaleas going to seed, the clematis blossoms may keep these butterflies on the creek.

Blue flag iris and pickerel weed add bright blue color to the landscape, but they are usually in sunny pockets behind the shrubs and trees at water’s edge.

The cow creek spider lilies are blooming and should continue its bloom for about two weeks.

And within two weeks, masses of false dragonhead blossoms will be seen along the creek.

 

Recent flowering plants on Womack Creek – April 11, 2018

05-P109016403-P1090055

These are flowers which were in bloom on April 11, 2018 on Womack Creek.   The American wisteria has a much thicker cluster of blooms and it does not invade the forests as do the exotic Japanese wisteria.   There are three locations with wisteria vines, but only one of these were seen blooming.  The bloom period is short-lived when the temperatures are in the high 70’s and low 80’s.

Blue flag iris plants can be seen throughout the creek, but are not prolific bloomers, unlike the Crooked River, which connects the Ochlockonee River on the east and the Carrabelle River on the west in Tate’s Hell State Forest.  Whole stands of them bloom along the Crooked River.

One of the most eye-catching flowers are on the narrowleaf primrose plant.  Here shown with Virginia sweetspire.

12-P109002913-P1090026

Cowcreek spider lilies will be in full bloom within two weeks.  The frame on the right shows a mass of buds and one flowering spider lily.

On Womack Creek landing you will see star grass and the pineland pimpernell, both are small flowered plants and may escape your notice, but look down and you will see them.

09-P109023608-P1090224

One bush of swamp roses on the upper left branch leading to Nick’s Road campsite are beginning to bloom and spreads its fragrance before you see the roses.

17-P1090108

In the water, spatterdock buds are opening up.

20-P109019338-P1090198

In about two weeks expect to see swamp titi, southern arrow wood, ogeche tupelos and muscadine flowers.  By early May, perseus bay and sweet bay will add a heavy fragrance to the creek.

At its peak now are swamp dogwood, swamp sweetbells, Virginia sweetspire, False indigo, candy root (at both landings) and butterweed.

The rusty haw, pinxster azaleas and fringe tree blossoms will not last in high 70 temperatures.  The cross vines may be at their end of bloom, also.

There are no exotic plants on Womack creek, unusual in Florida waterways.

More Than Meets the Eye in Blackwater River State Forest

by Beverly Hill

As a local who appreciates the outdoors, natural areas such as Blackwater River State Forest are a welcome diversion from modern life.  A peaceful hike along a trail or a laid back float trip down one of the rivers that run through it settles the mind into a quiet state of reflection.  As the human experience slows, the mind opens to notice more:  a green lynx spider with a bee in its web, a white-tailed deer track, an endangered pitcher plant.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Even with a natural eye, on a field trip to Blackwater River State Forest with the Florida Master Naturalist program, I was able to come to appreciate even more about what we have right here in the Florida panhandle.  As we walked through the thigh-high wiregrass surrounded by pine trees and sparkleberry bushes, our group came to stop under a tall pine speciman and learned that it was a long  leaf pine, a species of pine that inhabits less than 6% of its original range due to exploitation by the logging industry in the early 1900’s and from attacks by the southern pine beetle.  It is the key tree species in a complex of fire dependent ecosystems in the southeastern United States and plays a vital role in the survival of numerous species of wildlife, such as the endangered red cockaded woodpecker.

The red cockaded woodpecker only makes its cavity nest in old-growth long leaf pines that are at least 80-100 years old.  Our guide, who works extensively with the red cockaded woodpecker, set up a long pole with a video camera on the end and guided it up the tree to a small, nearly imperceptible hole.   Our group crowded around to get a glimpse of the woodpeckers, but instead got to see a southern flying squirrel who had taken up residence in the cavity, proving once again that a seemingly simple thing like a tree can help many things.

We moved on from the tree and carefully explored a small pitcher plant bog at the bottom of the slope where I was able to spot a small collection of white-top and parrot pitcher plants, as well as several small sundews.  The pitcher plant population in the United States is less than 3% of its original size due to habitat loss, a fact that wasn’t lost on me as I watched an impossibly tiny frog hop beneath a blade of grass in search of food.  The more we looked, the more interesting things we found:  wildflowers, dragon flies, archaeological remnants from the turpentine era.

 

We loaded back into the vehicles and headed to an ephemeral pond which is an area that has both wet and dry periods throughout the year and is important for breeding amphibians.  Although dry at the time of our visit, we were once again treated to the sight of unique plants and flowers that grow only in these temporary wetlands.  Almost as temporary as our afternoon outing that was winding down.

Although not my first visit to Blackwater River State Forest, it was one that provided greater insights about the importance of protecting our natural areas, both for ourselves and our environment.  Now, whenever I return, I will walk the trails and float the rivers with hopes of seeing even more hidden treasures.

Beverly Hill’s website: http://www.northwestfloridaoutdooradventure.com  gives photos and information of other Northwest Florida outdoor venues.

 

Everything is blooming on Womack Creek – Easter, 4-1-2018

See it before the pastels shades of green, pinkish green, bronze, yellow-green of spring turn into the heavier colors of summer.

Not just the leaves of the Florida maple and the Ogeche tupelo which leaves are beginning to appear.

The view of the creek is dotted with clumps of light pink, pinxster azaleas at their peak bloom.

False indigo blossoms,  It’s dominant purple bloom stalk encircles by lavender stamen.

The creek’s white flowers are at their peak bloom or beginning to bloom:  swamp sweet bells, swamp dogwood, Virginia Sweetspire, Fringe Tree, Blackberry blossoms, Yaupon, Rusty Haw and an yet to be identified flowering ground cover.

Yellow flowers, not to be missed are butterweed, located in large patches behind the immediate shoreline, candy root and a yet to be identified flower both at Nick’s Road campsite and just beginning to open, spatterdocks.

The first swamp rose is blooming — hard to say yet whether this will be a good year for these roses. There were just a few blooms on the many rose bushes throughout the creek.

But this year is definitely the year of the pinxster azaleas and the orange cross vines.  These vines are blooming profusely throughout the 3.75 mile stretch from the Womack Creek campground landing to Nick’s Road campsite.

And, if you can see those shiny purple balls of sweet-tart berries — blueberries are beginning to ripen.  A few now, but more to come.

A feast for your eyes, a tidbit for your stomach.