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.
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.
http://www.spc.noaa.gov/publications/corfidi/sunset/ for more information.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Autumn is a busy time for nature. Perennial plants and insects prepare for the changing, slower, colder, winter months.
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.