Monday, January 13, 2014

Rocks that Blow

Sunday, January 12, 2014  A Luscious Day, picture perfect, all sun and high 70's F Jan and I went down to Jupiter Island (yes, the place where that golfer dude and the singing Quebecoise live:  cheap real estate) and visited the NC's Blowing Rocks Preserve, so named due to the high tide phenomenon of waves whacking against the fossil shell encrusted limestone along the shoreline.

Jupiter Island marks the south end of the Indian River Lagoon.  It's location and the juxtaposition of the Florida Current just offshore, give it a sub-tropical climate, with corresponding plant communities.  The geology is also interesting, as this is the only part of the barrier island complex that has emergent limestone (the blowing rocks) on the beach.

The Nature Conservancy has done a great job of removing invasive exotic plants and they are replacing those with native plants, including Red Mangroves along the Indian River Lagoon. One of the salt-tolerant native plants is the Blackbead, Pithecellobium keyense.

This native of South Florida, Mexico, the Caribbean and South America is host to the Large Orange Sulphur Butterfly. As you can see here, the red pod ripens to reveal black seeds. The fleshy red pods are eaten by birds and other animals.

There are many plants in most South Florida habitats which scratch, sting and even poison.  One of the most attractive is Spurge Nettle, Cnidosculus stimulosus.  According to Green Deane, the root of this plant is edible.  He describes how to dig it up without touching the plant.

 You gotta love the poetry, the nettle with the mettle.


As we walked along the Lagoon beach, we noticed the newly planted Red Mangroves, one of several critical Lagoon ecological maintenance plants.  So many organisms are dependent on their cleansing, and safe haven properties. They are highly protected under State law.  And the Nature Conservancy is planting more along their lagoon property.

Just down the beach from these mangroves, I noticed an Osprey with a Mullet which the bird had just captured.

The warm day, and a stop at a local favourite eatery, finished our Florida day on a high note. We were spent and slept well!