Inspiring spiritual and cultural transformation through connection with wild spaces, with the help of God and neighbor, to create a world where wildlife and wild spaces are known as neighbors worthy of our love, kindness, compassion and care.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Florida Reflections: Spectacular Scrub

It was early evening during our second full day in Venice, Florida. Erin and I went for a walk at Shamrock Park. Lots of interesting 'plant people' as John Muir would call them; Saw palmettos, Sable palmettos, and Scrub oaks as well as a very interesting assortment of ferns and smaller plants.

 Here are a few of my photos from that saunter:

Some variety of fern growing on the trunk of a Sable palmetto (cabbage palm)
Another variety of fern growing on the trunk of another Sable palm.
Some kind of succulent plant that was prolific in a couple of spots.
Prickly pear cactus
Coontie
My thoughts are that this may be some variety of lupine, but am unsure.
An area of Florida scrub that was managed by controlled burn sometime during the past couple of years.
An area of Florida scrub that is a little older succession than the area depicted in the previous photo.
It's hard to believe, having been so intensely focused on the birds, that I overlooked the botanical diversity of this park the past couple of years; but it's easy to see how one can become so enthralled with the avian life of this place that he or she becomes blind to other beauties.

Florida scrub jay; a bird that provides scrub habitat with amazing character!

Gopher tortoise
Scrub jay and gopher tortoise are the two wild neighbors that define this scrub habitat for most moderately attentive and knowledgeable visitors. It is true, and there is also much more to appreciate about the unique Florida scrub habitat; there is always more to appreciate about a place, especially a place like Shamrock Park within which such unique and rare habitat thrives with such vitality.

Plus the neighbors are so welcoming! During our visit we watched a Florida scrub jay alight over the tops of palmetto and scrub oak come and perch just 5 feet from where we stood! Also, a gopher tortoise who was busy munching on small flowers walked right over to me and touched his or her nose to my shoe and then immediately resumed eating flowers. I'm not sure what that was all about, but I think I'll count it as a friendly gesture.

If you should ever find yourself near Venice, Florida and wish to immerse yourself in the unique and beautiful Florida Scrub habitat, I highly recommend Shamrock Park.

Here is more information about the habitat type called Florida Scrub for those who may be interested in learning more about it: https://www.fws.gov/verobeach/MSRPPDFs/FLScrub.pdf .

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