So we ended our morning at Randy’s Giant gulfensis site. Into the vehicles we went, off to our next destination. Sad thing… I don’t have any photos. When we got to site I realized that I left my camera in the truck… so close your eyes and imagine… wait, we’re not there yet!
Blazing down one of the backroads in the Eglin Airforce Base we happened to notice these yellow flowers, not sure what they were but Randy and Marie stopped, so Jay an I pulled off too. I still don’t know what all the fuss was about the yellow flowers, cause I found something more interesting! GRAPES, vines and vines of wild grapes, and not having lunch yet, seemed like a good time to have a snack.
These were nothing like the wild grapes up here in my neck of the woods. Ours our small and sour! These where quite large, and sweet. Maybe the forefather to the concord grape… who knows. Across the road something else caught my eye while these guys were photographing those yellow flowers… Persimmons.
I’ve actually never seen north american persimmons before, so this was really neat. Like their Asian relatives, these fruits are very astringent and not good to eat until they have been “aged”. You can either put them in a paper bag with apples and let the Methane gas ripen and sweeten them (the trick I use with Asian persimmons) or you leave them on the tree until they get a good frost, then freeze them solid. When they thaw, they are supposed to be ready to eat. Never tried it, but I hear it works! Ahough not native this far north, persimmons grow quite easily around here.
OK, so now its time to put on your imagination hats. After making a stop here for a snack and bathroom break we headed to one of the many sinkhole lakes north of Panama City Florida. Oh, took this picture cause I got a laugh out of the guys election sign… I’d change my last name!
Sorry… to continue. These large sandy lake margins around the sinkholes are home to many seeps… and in these seeps, the famed red florida filiformis plants grow.
These plants are VERY different from the typical east coast filiformis plants in color and stature. All the plants we saw were dark red and quite small, less than 10 or so cm’s tall… in many cases some only 5-6 cms.
What was very cool, was that in one of the seeps, there were also drosera filiformis var tracyii growing. But even cooler (I mean more cool) was that there were hybrids of the two. Some were clearly first generation crosses, looking halfway between both parents, others were clearly backcrossed, leaning more towards or the other parents. I’m going to email Jay, who did take pictures, to see if he can email some of his so I can post them here. Especially the photos of the hybrids. I think the taxonomy of these plants needs to be revisited! Nuff said.
So off we headed east, it was getting late and we had two very important sites to get in before night fall. Each site is significant, because each represents the range limits of the species.
The first was Tate’s Hell south of Apalachicola National Forest. This is the most western known locality for Sarracenia leucophylla (as far as I know anyway). It’s farther east than the famed Hosford site where leucophylla grows with venus flytraps! (Just one of a few natualized VFT sites in Florida). Again, sorry for no photos, but suffice it say, I was glad we had a four wheel drive vehicle. It was so wet. After some “out the window” searching, we spotted some leucos on the other side of a very flooded ditch. We crossed (carefully, watching for cotton mouths) to take a peek, and yes it was a pure leuco. We wanted to be sure, as we did find many flava x leuco crosses. So with that site under our belts, we looked for a quick way back to SR 65 to head north to our last site of the day.
It turned out the quickest way was not paved, and there were no bridges!
So after visiting the most easterly site of S. leucophylla we were heading into the Apalachicola National Forest to see one of the most westerly sites of Sarracenia minor.
I knew that S. minor grew a little farther east of hear near a place called Sopchoppy… but as far as I knew it didn’t come this far west. This site contained nothing but minor and psittacina, as well as hybrids. Although S. flava grows very close, it is not in this bog. The thing that fascinated me was that I’ve driven by this site many times over years and had no idea it was there! Sadly, we only had enough time to run in and take a few photos as it was getting dark. You’ll be able to tell that flash was used in the following photos as it was too dark with natural light. If there is any place where you might find a natural minor x leucophylla cross this area would be it. I’ve heard that minor grows closer to Tate’s Hell as well… so who knows…
And so ended our day, well the day in the field… now we have drive from Apalachicola FL to Kingsland GA (just north of Jacksonville)… suffice it to say, we didn’t get there until 2:00 am and we needed to get up at 5:30, we had a lot to do before we caught our flights home that afternoon.