Sunday, September 15, 2013

South Florida Field Trip - Part 4

The last stop of our short field trip was the Navy Wells Pineland Preserve near Homestead, Florida, a little ways south of the Robert is Here Fruit Stand and Farm and north of Everglades National Park. Unlike Palm Beach County, which has some kind of public access to most of its county-designated natural areas, most natural areas in Miami-Dade County have no public access and no trespassing signs were posted throughout the perimeter of the preserve. Michael Manna and I, however, had received permission from one of Miami-Dade County's land managers and were able to visit the preserve.

no trespassing sign at Navy Wells Pineland Preserve
The above sign was posted throughout the perimeter of the Navy Wells Pineland Preserve.

Navy Wells Pineland Preserve has an extremely rich rock pineland flora consisting of numerous grasses, herbaceous wildflowers, vines, and shrubs, many of which are near the northern limits of their natural range and are designated as state-listed threatened or endangered plants. A complete list of the nearly 400 plant species that have been recorded at Navy Wells is available from the Institute for Regional Conservation's web site. Below are a few images that only hint at the rich variety of plants we saw.

Rhynchosia reniformis
Rhynchosia reniformis differs from all other Florida members of its genus in its erect or suberect growth habit; leaves consisting of a single leaflet (instead of three leaflets); and pods conspicuously longer than the calyx.

Callicarpa americana - American Beautyberry
American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana).

Trema micrantha
Trema micrantha bore flowers, unripe fruits, and ripe fruits simultaneously.

Euphorbia pinetorum - Poinsettia pinetorum
Euphorbia pinetorum (synonym: Poinsettia pinetorum) has dark green leaves that are often suffused with burgundy. It is a state-listed endangered plant. 

Hieracium megacephalon
Hieracium megacephalon has small yellow flowerheads less than an inch across but they are very showy when closely examined.

Hypoxis sessilis
Hypoxis sessilis was easily overlooked unless it was in flower.

Koanophyllon villosum
Koanophyllon villosum was one of many examples of unusual and rare shrubs growing at Navy Wells Pineland Preserve with tropical affinities and that reach their northern range limits in Miami-Dade County. It is related to the genus Eupatorium and looks very much like a shrubby Eupatorium. The white autumn flowers are very attractive to butterflies and the leaves of some plants, including those at Navy Wells, have a subtle but distinct minty fragrance when crushed.

Indigofera spicata
This image of the non-native Indigofera spicata gives a good indication of the substrate that most plants are growing in at the Navy Wells Pineland Preserve. Note how small the plant is at the end of August in spite of there having been abundant rain during the spring and summer. As a lawn or roadside weed in Palm Beach County, this same plant would have had meter-long stems and abundant flowers and fruits.

Go to Part 1 of a "South Florida Field Trip."
Go to Part 2 of a "South Florida Field Trip."
Go to Part 3 of a "South Florida Field Trip."

Image and text © 2012 Rufino Osorio

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