Archives for category: February



Bidens mitis

Forb/herb, annual

Native, L 48

Flower color: yellow

Blooming: February, March

The tick in the common name refers to black seeds in a round ball which have a barb at the end.   This enables the plant to spread by sticking on to feathers, fur or clothes.


Ardea herodias

Family:  Ardeidae

Great blue herons can be seen throughout Tate’s Hell, in the rivers, creeks and ditches along the roads that crisscross the forest.   These are large, elegant birds with blue-gray backs, black sides and gray and white striped bellies.  The heron’s has a white face, cap and black crest on its head.  The juvenile is duller color and without a crest.  White and intermediate phases occur in Florida.  Great Blues are easily recognized in flight by 6-foot wind span and neck folded into an “S”.

Great blues can be found anywhere in the continental US and southern portions of Canada.   Though they are migratory birds, they can be seen in Florida throughout the year.  Their preferred habitats include lakes, ponds, rivers and marshes.  They lay two to seven pale blue or blue green eggs on a shallow platform of sticks lined with finer material, usually in a tree, but sometimes on the ground or concealed in a reed bed.  They often nest in colonies.  The eggs incubate from 25 to 30 days and both adults share in the sitting.  The average life span is 15 years.

They are carnivorous and eat fish, frogs, salamanders, lizards, snakes, shrimps, crabs, crayfish, dragonflies, grasshoppers and other aquatic insects.  They forage while wading, of belly deep, impaling prey with their sharp bills.  They are active day and night.

The great blue heron in Womack Creek is particularly skittish and therefore we have not been able to get closer to the bird, unlike other places where it is fairly easy to get close enough to great blues while paddling.  All photographs on this blog are all taken on Womack Creek so until we are able to get closer to the bird(s), this photo will have to suffice.

Most of the information is from iBird PRO, a great I-touch application for bird ID.



Nyssa sylvatic var biflora


Native L 48, Canada

Blooming:  March, before Ogeechee tupelo, white

Pollinated by insects, primarily bees, but pollen also spread by wind.  Honey produced usually called baker-grade honey, which, unlike white tupelo, will granulate.

Foliage and twigs eaten by deer.   Black bears, foxes, wood ducks, wild turkeys and robins eat fruit in the fall.  The photo above was taken on October 10, 2013.

Early settlers used hollowed trunks as bee hives or rabbit traps which traps were called  bee-gums or rabbit-gums.  Twigs  broken at right angles were once used as toothbrushes, hence the common name, pioneer’s toothbrush.

Location: N 30 00 306, W084 33 566′ (2.9 RL)

P1010157Ilex vomitoria Aiton

Tree,shrub; perennial

Native: L 48

Blooming:  February, March, white

Location:  N30 00.188’W084 32.870(.6RL),N 30 00.057’W084 33.272′(1.16RR), N 30 00.093’W084 33.305′(1.25RL),N 30 00.212’W0884 33.567′(1.64RR), N 30 00.499’W084 34.120′(2.43RL)

This plant is an evergreen and is native to Southeastern U.S.   In December it’s red berries and shiny leaves provide holiday greenery, but more important, the fruit (drupe) is eaten by birds:  Florida duck, American black duck, mourning dove, ruffed grouse, bobwhite quail, wild turkey, northern flicker, sapsuckers, cedar waxwing, eastern bluebird, American robin, gray catbird, northern mockingbird and white-throated sparrow.  The American black bear, armadillo, gray fox, skunk and raccoon also feed on the fruit.  White-tailed deer browse on young twigs and foliage.  Bees are the primary pollinators and the plant is a host for butterfly larvae.

A decoction of leaves and/or stems in a black “tea” was used in all-male fasting, purification and bonding rituals.   Early reports indicated that this infusion caused vomiting.  Scientists today are skeptical that the plant alone which has high concentration of caffeine and theobromine was the cause of the vomiting.  By itself or with other plants, it was used as an emetic, cathartic and even hallucinogen (Cherokee).   The Seminoles used the bark for “old people’s dance sickness” which manifested itself in nightmares and “waking up talking”.

The Seminoles also used the branches for arrows and ramrods.

P1010287Hypericum microsepalum

sub-shrub; perennial

Native: L 48

Blooming:   February, March, yellow

Location:  Boat landing and camp site areas

This is one of the earliest spring flowers in Tate’s Hell and one of the earliest blooming species of Hypericum.  Stands of these plants line the sandy forest roads throughout this state forest.



May 19, 2017



Blossom stems taken April 11, 2014 on a living oak tree.












Epidendrum magnoliae Muhl var. magnoliae

Fort/herb, perennial

Native: L 48

Blooming:  January, February, green

Endangered and threatened species: Florida

Location:  Removed to prevent predation by collectors.

This is the only epiphyte orchid to grow in North Florida.  It prefers dead oak trees.  A fellow paddler saw some blooming on the Wakulla River in January 2013 and saw plants on  Econfina Creek (2013).  Please see, but don’t touch or take.  This orchid is on the endangered and threatened list for Florida.

On the far western side of Tate’s Hell on Graham Creek  two healthy stands of Green Fly orchids were seen, one on a growing cypress tree, the other on a dead cypress tree.  Dead bloom buds, indicate that it had bloomed earlier this year.  Fort Gadsden creek, another tributary of the Apalachicola River, also has healthy stands of these orchids throughout one of its branches.

P1010788-001Toxicodendron radicans (L) Kuntze

Vine; perennial

Native: L 48, Canada

Blooming:  February, March, white

Location: N 30 00.169’W084 33.522′ (1.59RL)

Poison ivy can be found throughout the whole creek.   Blooms are noticeable in late February and early March along with young leaf shoots.  Insects, particularly honey bees, pollinate the flowers.  Birds and mammals which eat the seeds disperse these seeds as does water.  It also spreads by stems that root and also by below ground stems which send up shoots.

Urushiol is a pale yellow oil found in all plant parts which cause allergic reactions, in some people,  life threatening.  According to  USDA forester J.K. Francis, 10-15% of the US population do not respond adversely to the plant (immune), 25-35% react to only high doses, and 50% have a consistent reaction.  The best line of defense is to avoid it.  If  in contact, wash immediately with soap and water or if not available mud and water or with an alkaline material such as baking soda or wood ash and water.   Traditional medicine treated poison ivy reaction with the mashed juice of the jewel weed (Impatiens spp.).   Jewel weed is not found in Womack Creek.

Some native American tribes used the eastern poison ivy  as a rejuvenator, as an emetic, and rubbed whole or broken leaves over non-healing sores.  The Navajos even used a compound in the plant to make poisoned arrows.

It is an important food source for deer and the fruit for game and song birds.  Rabbits and rodents eat the leaves and fruit.  Extracts from the leaves have and still are used to treat herpetic eruptions, palsy and rheumatism and in small dosage used as a sedative.


February 9, 2014 red maples all in bloom

P1010072Acer rubrum


Native:  L48, Canada

Blooming:  January, February, red

Location:  N30 00.048′ W084 00.048′ (.9RL), N30 00.050’W084 33.021′ (1RR). N 30 00.416’W084 33.744′(2.85RL)

One of the earliest signs of springs, this plant is polygamo-dioecious, either entirely male, entirely female, or both male and female.  So you will see some trees with only red leaves in the spring, and others with winged seed, called samara, and others with both.  The flowers are so tiny one must photograph them before the tiny samara have formed, which we were unable to do this spring.

Early settlers used extract from the bark for ink and also for cinnamon/black and black dyes.

Native Americans used the plant extensively.  Medicinally it was used for menstrual cramps, sore eyes, hives, dysentery,measles and in a complex recipe as a blood purifier.  The Seminoles use it also for “ballgame sickness”, back and limb pains and hemorrhoids.  Nonmedicinal uses were as sweeteners and the bark pounded into a meal by the Iroquois. The wood was made into spoons by Seminoles, arrowheads and ox yokes.   Other tribes used this species to make furnitues, basketry and bowls.

P1010186Betula nigra L

Tree, perennial

Native: L 48

Blooming:  February, March, brown

Native Americans had wide medicinal applications for the plant, as: antidairrheal, cold remedy, for somach ache and urinary problems.

P1010114Liquidambar styraciflua L.


Native: L48

Blooming:  February, March, green

Location: N 30 00.150’W084 33.563′ (2.2RR)

Native Americans used the resin or bark for medicine for such ailments as:  diarrhea, flux, dysentery, wounds, sores, ulcers, skin sores believed to be caused by worms.  It was also used as a sedative and Spanish moss taken from this species was used to bring down fever.  The rolled, hardened sap, was placed on a dog’s nose to cure distemper. It was also used as chewing gum.  Combined with hearts-a-bustin-with-love (Euonymus americana) and summer grapes, it’s bark  made a tea.


Photographed November 10, 2016.