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Asclepias lancolata Walter

Forb/herb/perennial

Native L 48

Found in moist ditches, brackish marshes

Summer blooming

Host plant of monarch, queen and soldier butterflies; pollinated by bees, insects and moths and butterflies.

Poisonous if ingested in large enough quantities; vomiting, stupor, weakness, spasms.

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Anolis carolinensis

Class: reptilia

Native

Length of adults 5-8 inches.  Females are shorter.  Half of the body length is the tail.  Males and females are easily distinguishable, with the male having a dewlap beneath their necks which are pinkish in color.  The dewlap is believed to be used by the male as a courting strategy and also between two males to establish territory.

Primarily an arboreal lizard, but can be found throughout Florida, north to North Carolina and west to Texas.

Diurnal and territorial.

Diet of the anole are mainly insects, although they will eat anything smaller than their head.  They are largely carnivorous.

The green anoles breed in warmer months and mate within their territory.   There is a courting ritual and mating lasts only a few minutes.  Males remain near the female to keep other males away.  Females have the ability to store sperm and thus delay fertilization.  She usually lays one or two egg clutches of less than 9 eggs,  every two weeks in moist soil.

The eggs incubate for 5-7 weeks and when hatched fend for themselves, although the parent anoles remain in the area.  Young anoles are sexually mature at 8-9 months.  Average lifespan in the wild is up to 10 years, with a typical wild lifespan being 2-8 years.

For more information see http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Anolis_carolinensis/

 

 

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Reptile

Plestiodon laticeps

Common species, Southeastern US

This is the largest skink (up to 13 inches) found in Southeastern US (area enclosed by southeastern Pennsylvania, central Indiana, easter Kansas to eastern Texas, the Gulf coast to Central Florida).   It is semi-arboreal — this skink was on an oak tree about twice the paddle high from the kayak.

The photo above is of a male broadhead skink,  most probably.  Male skink heads turn larger and orange in color as they approach mating season, usually in late spring.  This one was photographed on May 4, 2018.  Juvenile skinks have five lines, similar to the five-lined skink and sport blue tails.

Female skinks are larger than males.  At mating time, the male skink will detect with its tongue the peromones emitted by the females.  Larger females are sought after before the smaller ones; female skinks seem to prefer male skinks with brighter colored heads.  After mating, the male skink will stay with the female for about a week, defending his genetic material against other male skinks.  After that, he may mate again.

The females lay as many as 22 eggs in a nest of decaying leaf or organic debris, leaving the nest only to feed.  After 3-8 weeks, once hatched, the young skinks are on their own.  They are become sexually mature when they reach 3 inches in length.

Skinks feed on insects, spiders, mollusks, rodents and small reptiles, including juvenile skinks.  In turn, they are food for carnivorous birds, larger reptiles and cats.

Skinks have breakaway tails which continue to wiggle once detached, thus distracting their prey while they make their escape.

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Viola septemloba Leconte

Fort/herb/perennial

Native L48, N

The distinctive leaf pattern distinguishes it as a separate species recognized by the US violet specialist and the USDA, but it is not recognized as a separate species by the Atlas of Florida Plants (USF).

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Yucca flaccida (or filamentosa)

Forb/Herb, perennial

Native, L 48, C

The leaves of this variety of yucca is not erect and though often considered Yucca filamentosa, some sources suggest that it might be a species unto itself, flaccida.

It is a member of the Asparagaceae family and the young blossom shoots look like asparagus shoots.

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Arundinaria gigantea
Monocot, Shrub, Perennial
Native, L 48 (23 states)
Blooming: rare, but March to May in Florida
Rhizomatous and reproduces primarily from rhizomes (roots)

Air canals in the roots enables the plants to deal with flooding and continuously moist sites. However, it thrives best under open or light tree cover. In Florida it may be an undercover for loblolly pine, slash pine, sweet gum, willow oak, live or laurel oak, Pond or Bald cypress, tupelo, sweet bay, cabbage palm, Florida Red Maple and hornbeam. These trees can be found in the forests around Womack Creek.

At time of exploration and settlement by Europeans, cane brake was a common shrub in Southeastern U.S. Only about 2% of this area is now covered in cane brake. The National Biological Service considers canebrake ecosystems “critically endangered”.

It provides year round forage for cattle, horses, swine and sheep and was a major forage crop in southeast US. It also supports white-tailed deer, bison and wild turkeys. The thickness of growth provides good dens for bears. Cottonmouths, copperheads and pygymy rattlesnakes are often found in cane brakes because of its population of rodents and other small prey.

Native Americans used the plant to make spears, arrows, blowguns, pipes, flutes, fishing poles and fish traps. Baskets and mats were made from this plant. Probably the young shoots were eaten as a potherb. Since cane propagates better under a managed burn situation, Native Americans were known to burn these areas every 7-10 years.

The following species of butterflies can be seen in switch cane in watery areas: creole pearly eye, southern pearly eye, southern swamp skipper, cobweb little skipper, cane little skipper and yellow little skipper. Of these only the southern pearly eye is listed in Daniels, Butterflies of Florida.

Sources of information: Taylor, Jane E., Fire Effects Information System http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/, USDA Plant Fact Sheet and Atlas of Florida Plants.

P1050350Callicarpa americana L.

Shrub/perennial

Native L 48

Blooming:   white

Location:  Nick’s Road primitive camp site (take-out on RR 3.7 miles north (upriver) from  Womack Creek  campground landing

These seeds were photographed on September 26, 2013.   Blooming times indicated only if we have seen the plant bloom.

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This photo was taken by Branson (Chuck) Carleton, former host, Womack Creek Camp Site, on March 6, 2012.   The building houses the rest rooms and showers and to the right is a large covered pavilion with picnic tables.  There are 12 primitive camp tent sites, 3 available for RV s and trailers at this campground, $10 per site per night.  Day use fee, $2 per day per person.   Not reservable, first come, first serve, but hardly ever used.   Let water sit overnight to remove sulphur smell; otherwise bring your own drinking and cooking water.