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A photo diary of spring ephemerals on a volunteer day in North Florida.

The Daily Bucket is a place where we post and exchange our observations about the natural happenings we see. Birds, blooms, bugs and more - each note is a record that we can refer to in the future as we try to understand the patterns that are quietly unwinding around us.
January 19, 2013

Spring comes quick to the Angus Gholson Nature Park in Chattahoochee, FL.
The park is on the east edge of the Apalachicola River with homes overlooking on 2 sides. The steep forested hills of mixed hardwoods provide ample shade and good shelter while in the winter more sun filters thru. Small ravines dissect the slopes and bottom out in a wide floodplain. Great place for the early ephemerals. Unfortunately it's also good for invasive plants that move down from the surrounding yards or spread thru the bottom during floods.

This is the 4th or 5th year I have volunteered here. The goal is to remove invasive plants such as Coral Ardisia.

Ardisia can potentially shade out native seedling and understory plants, preventing their growth and development. Mature plants are prolific seed producers and can be surrounded by many seedlings, also leading to reduced seed germination of valued native species.
This photo shows the evergreen leaves and red berries. Note the smaller-leafed invasive lurking to the right behind the Ardisia - Nandina aka Heavenly bamboo.

We pull Nandina too but since it's tough to get all the taproot, and they grow back from the root easily, it's an on-going task. Ardisia comes up a bit easier but if it snaps off leaving the roots, the plant grows back and is harder to pull the next time. Various privets (Ligustrum spp.) are also attacked.

For bigger plants and saplings, we have a device called a root jack that my grandson is proud to wield. The call "Hey Anthony, yo Ant - over here please" rings out often!

Follow below and see what else Ant is learning in these woods.

The next photo shows bamboo that has crept down the slope behind some houses. Homeowners are usually not aware of the invasive nature of their landscape plants. It grows 10-15' high and so thick you can hardly walk thru. About an acre was cut and treated. This is new growth coming up from rhizomes. Spraying now before it strengthens should finish it off.

On to the good stuff

This is why I volunteer at this park - the chance to go out and see plants that are seldom found in North Florida, such as Trout Lilies. Or as they are called in other places Dimpled Dog-tooth Violet; scientific name Erythronium americanum. While common farther north, they are rare in the Florida Panhandle with favorable habitat in only a few places.

It's hard to walk the steep slopes without stepping on the 1000s that spring up. Since it's early in the morning, the sleepy heads are just waking.

And then there are Trilliums, mostly Trillium underwoodii.  This website uses the common name purple toadshade but that's a new one on me. We just call them trilliums since it is the most common species around here.

Scattered here and there are Lanceleaf Trilliums (Trillium lancifolium) that are similar to underwoodii but with narrow leaves. Very limited range. I guess some folks say wakerobin but that's not a name I have heard locally.

While Trillium is from the Latin for "three", not all have 3 leaves. Here's an odd one with 4; sometimes a first year plant will have 1 or 2.

Growing among the trout lilies and trilliums is Red Buckeye. This small shrub (also a sizable understory tree down in the floodplain) is a favorite of mine. Early-arriving hummingbirds search out the red blooms. Like many other plants, spring is coming a month early - again. The new norm I guess. This one has just started to leaf out; blooms in 2-3 weeks.

Arnoglossum or by its common name Indian plantain - not totally sure about this.
Guy Anglin was with us today and I should have asked him since he identified and took the photos for it at the often-referenced Florida Plant Atlas.

Should have asked Guy about this one too. The only violet I saw blooming altho leaves are popping up all thru the woods.  The first leaves, somewhat heart-shaped, look like the common violet  Viola sororia  but the lobed leaf could be a Viola palmata. Since the USDA plant website considers V. palmata a hybrid, I may be right on both - LOL
The lighting is a bit off so the bloom is hard to see. By the way, these photos were taken with an iPhone 4; easy to carry in my side pants pocket while working.

These cages were erected to protect the Carolina Lily from browsing deer. They emerge and flower later towards summer. I have not seen it yet. By May we are usually off into other places in the park.

And now it's noon and we're headed back to the parking lot with our bags full of invasives and happy to have seen and shared so much. The trout lilies are wide awake - blooms full open. Maybe they are thanking us!

And one last photo from the day before in my yard - a wooly bear. Sure didn't expect to spot that but after several January days above 70 degrees, nothing is surprising anymore.

Thanks for visiting, hope you enjoyed it, and as always, please jump in with your comments about the glorious nature in your neck of the woods.

PS - if any newcomers stop by, The Daily Bucket / Backyard Science is gracious place and always safe from "pie fights". There was a pi fight last week tho...

Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 3:49 AM PT: Close but no banana... It's not Indian Plantain but rather something called a gromwell, Lithospermum tuberosum.  H/T Leigh. And again, great photos by Guy at the Florida Plant Atlas

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