When most people think of prairie they think of the Midwest; flat, treeless land with acres upon acres of wheat or corn. Few conjure an image of dwarf palmetto and wiregrass stretching to the horizon, interrupted only by sparse hammocks of cabbage palm and small seasonal ponds. Yet Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park, located in rural Okeechobee, is just that. KPP protects the largest remaining tract of the unique Florida dry prairie. Its 54,000 acres contain a mosaic of dry prairie, wet prairie, marshes, sloughs, cabbage palm and oak hammocks, flood plain - no less than 14 distinct natural communities - which sustain a vast and diverse array of flora and fauna. This is prairie in Florida, shaped by the sea, maintained by frequent fire, and with its own history. This is the land made famous by author Patrick Smith in A Land Remembered.
In the fall, the Florida dry prairie is ablaze with color and texture: rich yellow goldenrods and sunflowers, purple blue Liatris and Carphephorus, and tall, tawny grasses sway gently among the bright green saw palmettos. (as seen in the photo above). This spectacular sight is not to be missed. Fortunately for all of us, Roger Hammer and Craig Huegel, two of Florida's most recognized wildflower experts, will lead two wildflower walks at Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park on November 1, 2014. Their extensive knowledge of Florida's flora, along with their well known wit and humor, are guaranteed to emake the trip both educational and entertaining.
|All aboard the Swamp Buggy Express!|
Cost for the plant walk is $24 for Friends of Kissimmee Prairie Preserve members and $34 for non-members. Walks are scheduled at both 9:30 am and 1:30 pm and are limited to 20 participants each - first come, first serve.
To register, and for more information, visit: http://www.kissimmeeprairiefriends.org
Click on "Special Event" on the home page.
Additional Photos taken at KPP
|The inflorescences of these grasses give the prairie a mist-like glow|
|Eastern meadowlark (Sturnella magna) among the goldenrods (Solidago spp.)|
|D.Y.C.s (darn yellow composites) might be hard to key out but they're cheerful to look at|
|This could be you!|
|Florida Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo osceola)|
|Blazing star (Liatris spp.) and Skipper butterfly|
|The rare is commonplace at KPP. Clockwise from top left:|
Bachman's sparrow, Catesby's lily, crested caracara and zebra swallowtail
Text provided by the Friends of Kissimmee Prairie Preserve
Photos courtesy of Donna Bollenbach, Christina Evans, Stan Czaplicki, Craig Huegel, and Paul Marcellini
Posted and edited by Laurie Sheldon