Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Sunshine State

I took a quick, but enjoyable trip to Florida a few weekends ago for the Florida Native Plant Society annual conference. They are a really amazing group that promotes the use of native plants in the state, does research, raises awareness with legistlatures about the benefits of using native plants in landscaping, and lots of other really great stuff. One of my favorite parts of being a member is going on field trips. There are always a few amateur naturalists and botanists (like myself) as well as some very knowledgable botanists who take their time to stop every 2 feet to identify and describe a plant. The things you can learn on these trips are amazing! The last day of the conference was field-trip-day! YAY! I took a kayak trip on Coral Creek, a tributary to the tidal estuary, Placida Harbor, and straight out into the Gulf of Mexico. Here are pictures from the adventure:

These are pictures of the red mangroves. Red mangroves (Rhizophora mangle) have prop roots which not only reduce wave action and erosion, but also serve as important habitat for estuary nurseries. In these nurseries, baby fish, oysters, barnacles, crabs, seahorses and lots of other species are protected from the larger fish lurking in deeper waters.

Marine biologist, Jack Taylor, guided us from Grande Tours outdoor center along the tidal estuary. The Grande Tours center is very cute and the people are friendly and very knowledgable!
Oh, and I thought you'd be interested to know that red mangroves also have medicinal uses:

  • gnarles of the bark are used to treat throat cancer
  • ashes or bark infusions are used to treat skin disorders and sores

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