Not what it seems…

Spanish moss adds mood o the scene. Copyright 2018 Pamela Breitberg

It is a prolific plant in Florida. Visitors are told that Spanish Moss (Tillandsia usneoides) is an invasive, choking pest, harming trees and other plants that it inhabits. Its dense clusters do seem to cover its hosts. The strange truth is that it is a member of the pineapple family; with tiny flowers that I have yet to see because to see them requires a microscope. I have tried zooming in on the photographs I’ve taken but have yet to find any flower; so perhaps my timing was off, and I did not capture them during their bloom time.

Truth is that Spanish Moss, aka Grandpa’s Beard, is an air plant getting its food and water from the atmosphere. Its host plants provide only a resting place though it has been known to be so dense that the host plant does not enough sunlight and therefore suffers. Folklore is that the plant, “The Meanest Man That Ever Lived”, was from an old man’s hair that grew very, very long and caught on the trees. Things are often not what they seem. But the stories are fun.

Grandpa’s Beard?! Coyright 2018 Pamela Breitberg

Beautiful and eerie. Copyright 2018 Pamela Breitberg

Close-up Spanish Moss. Copyright 2018, Pamela Breitberg

Tree enveloped by Spanish Moss. Copyright 2018, Pamela Breitberg

Early morning blues…

Pre-sunrise yields overall blue tones to this scene. Copyright 2018 Pamela Breitberg

Dawn brings out the blue tones that quickly dissipate as the sun emerges. This morning’s sunrise was slowed by heavy clouds. Compare the color tones before sunrise and just after sunrise.

The only element that isn’t a shade of blue is sun’s peaking through the cloud cover. Copyright 2018 Pamela Breitberg

Gradually, as the sun rises and shines through holes in the clouds the setting loses it’s blueish cast. Copyright 2018 Pamela Breitberg

The sun’s light warms both the air as well as the color palette. Copyright 2018 Pamela Breitberg

Check out:
http://www.spc.noaa.gov/publications/corfidi/sunset/ for more information.

Welcome back to the World…

The Butterfly World in Coconut Creek Florida seems like a world to itself. Today I am sharing a few images from last winter’s visit. They reopened today: https://www.butterflyworld.com/hurricane-closure-and-preparation/, and will release the butterflies and finches back into their outdoor habitats. There was no damage to the facilities by Irma.

A resting Clipper butterfly. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg.

Rain drenched stills butterflies; they are unable to fly with wet wings. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

Macro image of butterfly among the flora. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

White Morpho butterfly. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg.

Thoas Swallowtail feeding on bananas in a dish. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg. I am unsure why its “tails” seem to be missing.

On closer inspection…

The Winged Loosestrife’s (Lythrum alatum) vibrant color stood out on the cliff’s wall across from our descending path to Wild Cat Canyon in Starved Rock State Park. Only later when I was home and reviewing these images did I realize the plant was a resting spot for this winged insect. Such is the joy of photography. My eyes often miss seeing all the subjects in my compositions. Sometimes what I capture is distracting to my desired focus (unwanted elements in the background). This added subject was a wonderful surprise.

My initial thought was that this insect was a dragonfly or damselfly. But those insects have two pairs of wings. I am guessing that this is some variety of Crane Fly (Tipula) instead. The other joy of nature photography is that I am always learning!

I zoomed in to get the original picture (bottom image) and found a new and more interesting composition when I zoomed in still closer (first image).

Posing nicely for my picture. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

I spo

Longer view of this Loosestrife and Crane Fly scene, to show more of the habitat. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

tted

 

Under-valued communities…

Fungi (mushrooms) and algae produce lichen on this dead tree stump. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

Yesterday’s post of Lichen was witness to what happens when fungi and algae live together. The fungi benefit from algae that make food through photosynthesis. These images show the lush diversity within these miniature communities. I always feel the presence of a superior entity (God, to me) when I observe such creations.

Colony of mushrooms appear after rains; on less moist days the fungi thrives underground. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

 

Never seen this kind of fungi. The variety at Starved Rock after a few days of rain were many and diverse. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

Fungi ring around the tree stump. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

This tree hosts a prolific, rich community. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

The moist walls of the canyon supports more miniature communities. Copyright 2017, Pamela Breitberg.

Naturally…

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Proliferation of beautiful pale blooms. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

Delicate wonder. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

Delicate wonder. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

Synonyms for “naturally” include obviously, logically, unsurprisingly, certainly and indeed. The flowers below are growing in the natural, tropical habitat. Unsurprisingly they flourish when allowed to live naturally.

Tropical bloom Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

Tropical bloom Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

Flowering Palm. Copyright 2017, Pamela Breitberg

Flowering Palm. Copyright 2017, Pamela Breitberg

 

Tulip Tree in bloom. Copyright 2017, Pamela Breitberg

Naturally thriving orchids. Copyright 2017, Pamela Breitberg

Signature ecosystem…

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Moss laden log. Copyright 2015 Pamela Breitberg.


The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert is a story that seamlessly integrates meticulous botanical details into your knowledge base as one reads this coming-of-age love story. The uniquely original ecosystems of moss are one such topic. Walking through the forest this past fall, this scene on the forest floor reminded me of Alma Whittaker’s fascination with such ecosystems. I felt somewhat guilty not returning regularly to document the changes within.

After the monarchs…


Seeds bursting from pod with Milkweed Bugs. Copyright 2015, Pamela Breitberg

Seeds bursting from pod with Milkweed Bugs. Copyright 2015, Pamela Breitberg

Common Milkweed pod full of MIlkweed Bugs. Copyright 2015 Pamela Breitberg

Common Milkweed pod full of MIlkweed Bugs. Copyright 2015 Pamela Breitberg

Common Milkweed acting as host of Milkweed Bugs. Copyright 2015 Pamela Breitberg

Common Milkweed acting as host of Milkweed Bugs. Copyright 2015 Pamela Breitberg

Common Milkweed (asclepias syriaca) is the chosen food of Monarch butterflies. Eggs are laid on the plant and larva feast on the leaves. Much has been reported on the loss of habitat for Monarchs including this Milkweed, not to be confused with the orange blooming Butterfly Milkweed (asclepias tuberosa). Loss of habitat has led to dramatically reduced populations of these wonderful creatures.

This Common Milkweed plant attracted me with its delicate fluffy seeds that had recently burst out of several pods. They always remind me of one segment of the Disney movie, Fantasia. As I focused on the seeds, I noticed a few brightly colored Milkweed Bugs. Several moments later, I realized the “brown” pod above the seeds was actually a community of Milkweed Bugs on one pod. The Milkweed Butterfly has left this northern area and begun its 3000-mile migration to Mexico, while the Milkweed Bug enjoys the remaining spoils of this host plant.