I just can’t stay away from San Felasco Hammock State Park. I did a solo 15.2-mile ride this afternoon with the goal of filling in blanks on my master map of its trails and roads. Before today, I had been lackadaisical about adding waypoints to show where trails/roads start and end, or where I jumped off trail to take shortcuts or explore wilderness, so the master map is kinda snaggley, with hanging trails and horse/bike statuses unknown. I guess I just figured that if I recorded my bike-and-hike GPS tracks, I could sort ‘em out later. Wrong!
The worst depictions are trails that are furthest from the trailhead, naturally, so that’s where I went. Folks, I gotta tell you, 15 miles of my boney butt bouncing around on that skinny, hard bicycle seat has me worn out and sore. I don’t even have the energy to fix dinner, so here I am instead posting to my blog and drinking a beer. But that’s ok! Someday soon, I will have a map of the park that is better than any version I can get online from the state. Maybe it will all be worth it? Wanna buy one from me?
As usual, the trip produced some neat stuff, but less than normal due to my constantly getting on and off the bike to collect waypoints and bury my nose in maps. Here’s the best botanical find today, a crane-fly orchid (Tipularia discolor) leaf:
It is the time of year when the crane-fly orchid produces a single leaf, but is immediately after it flowers and sets seed. Having only a leaf makes it harder to spot the beast among abundant greenbriar sprouts and newly-fallen leaves. This specimen did not have a flower stalk, so if you take just a quick glance at the leaf you might think I have mistaken a greenbriar (Smilax sp.) for an orchid. It certainly does look like the leaves of several local species of greenbriar, but look at this second pic:
It clearly shows the smooth, purple surface of the leaf’s underside, whereas Smilax pumila, the only greenbriar around here with a purple leaf bottom, has a profusion of hairs under its leaves. So it’s a crane-fly orchid, and I am tickled pink to find it in San Felasco. I have been looking for it all my life, yet only saw it recently for the first time (in the mountains of NC), so am glad to know that it occurs in San Felasco. The NC experience taught me the cues to look for, and I suspected it might occur in San Felasco due to potentially appropriate soils and forest habitats, so I was watching for it today. Treasures appear to those who are prepared for them. If you want to see some really good pics of crane-fly orchids in bloom, check out the Nov. 29, 2010 post on The Florida Native Orchid Blog (one of my Favorite Blogs, listed in the right-hand column of my blog) at http://flnativeorchids.blogspot.com/.
Moving right along… In the Trees-with-Character category, I spotted this Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) on the hillside:
It is a single plant, the trunk in the center being 2+ ft dbh and the two flanking trunks 1+ ft dbh. The central trunk is partially hollow, and I searched for evidence of mammal nests at its entrance, but found none. Its three main trunks have caused the tree’s healthy crown to spread out wider than the norm for this species, so evidently the large wound has not put a crimp on its ability to survive and flourish. We should all be as tough. Peace.