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Showing posts from June, 2016

LICHENS – A TAPESTRY OF LIFE

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by Donna BollenbachThe tiny moss has been the theme of many a gifted poet; and even the despised mushroom has called forth classic works in its praise. But the Lichens, which stain every rock, and clothe every tree, which form:

Nature’s livery o’er the globe Where’er her wonders range Have been almost universally neglected, nay despised. Lauder Lindsay

PIONEERS
Imagine our continent after the last ice age: Glaciers cut deep gorges in the land and miles of granite boulders, silt and the bones cover the hills and plains of North America. Life has all but disappeared, but there is hope for new life in a simple living entity that is neither plant nor animal, the lichens.

Lichens, a partnership of a fungus and an alga, are able to survive in the most extreme temperatures. The lichens that partner with cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, produce their own nitrogen, so they are able to grow on nitrogen-poor substrates. They form colonies on the surface of the rocks and bare soil. The chemicals in …

The Saints of Hillsborough County: The Genus Hypericum

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Submitted by Carmel vanHoek Photos courtesy of the Florida Plant Atlas

All Saints Of the thirty-one species of the genus Hypericum that have been vouchered for the state of Florida according to the USF Plant Atlas, twelve may be found in Hillsborough County. The genus has been known world-wide since pre-Christian times for its healing properties and each people group has given it common names of their choosing. One of the beliefs of the Romans and Greeks was that the flowers were sent by the gods to provide a holy sacrifice to repel evil, the Greeks naming it Hupereicon and the Romans, Hypericum, meaning perhaps the plant had power over evil. A sacrificial ritual would take place annually during Summer Solstice, also known as Midsummer’s Day, the flowers being thrown on fires to appease the gods. With the advent of Christianity pagan rituals were incorporated with church-based festivals. Thus, because St. John’s birthday was near to Midsummer’s Day, the European species, Hypericum per…

It’s a Jungle Out There…and it smells like licorice!

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Story and Photos by Donna Bollenbach


Despite the warnings  of  “DIFFICULT” and “YOU WILL GET WET”, my decision to go on the Mormon Branch/Ocala National Forest conference field trip in May, was based on two things: First, it was led by Scott Davis. I have been on a few adventures with Scott and have enjoyed every one of them. Even though I don’t think I am going to remember every plant and botanical detail Scott rattles off, I always go home knowing more than I thought I would. I think this is because Scott impresses upon the what's interesting and important.  

Second, I wanted to see where the Large-leaf grass-of-Parnassus (Parnassia grandiflora) blooms. Though I knew I would not see the flower because it is a fall bloomer, I still wanted to see the plant. I read that the presence of  Parnassia,  along with the Atlantic White Cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides), is an indicator of high plant diversity and rare species. In other words, it would be pristine habitat. 
Pristine it was! So…