Alexander Springs- Exploring the Timucuan Trail
The Timucuan trail primarily treks northeast of the famous spring. It winds through diverse riparian, wetland, and transitional xeric hammock plant communities that are accessible through boardwalk and cleared paths.
The synergism of environmental interests was thick as the 100% humidity on a summer morning. It’s always an exciting time when nature enthusiasts come together. Every person attending had a story, an experience, or something to add to the conversation about plants and animals. David Rakes and Lavon Silvernell, our field trip leaders, shared their ecology knowledge with the people in the front and back of the group respectively. While traversing mucky areas, John Benton led a third splinter group of people that wanted to stay dry. The experience left all of us feeling grateful and happy that we took the time to travel to this special place.
Other plants found in the vicinity of the pictured yellow anisetree were Atlantic white cypress (Chamaecyparis thyoides) and sweetbay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana).
We even spotted an unusual non-native plant along the trail, the African monk orchid, Oeceoclades maculata. Although looking like a juvenile Sansevieria plant at first glance, it was quickly ruled out due to the bulbous basal stem (bottom right in the picture). Scientists believe that the monk orchid is dependent on parasitising on certain fungal species . The plant is often found in leaf litter and not firmly entrenched in soil, easily being uprooted. Interestingly, the physical action of rainfall pollinates it’s flowers. Listed as an invasive plant before 2007, it has been delisted since and is simply a non-native, naturalized plant. This plant also happened to be the only instance where we spotted this species during our trip- much different from the behavior of exotic invasives that competitively and systematically push out native plants from habitats.
Some plants provided a guessing game. Lavon, April McClain, Hanna Rosner-Katz, and myself found this interesting vine that we first thought was some sort of yam. When we broke off a leaf and noticed white sap drops, we realized it was something completely different- a milkvine, perhaps.
Plants found near the guessing game plant were cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto), azalea (Rhododendron sp.), and bald cypress (Taxodium distichum).
A special thanks to David Rakes, author of ‘Botanizing with Bears’ for taking the time to lead this field trip. Without Lavon’s and his useful plant list specifically for the trail, this event would not have been so enjoyable. More information about his book can be found here. You can also purchase his book by mailing him a check or money order for $18 (includes shipping and handling) to P.O. Box 2706, Belleview, FL 34421. Tell him this article referred you!
 University of Florida, Department of Entomology and Nematology. http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/misc/gastro/tree_snails.htm
 University of South Florida Plant Atlas. http://florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=641
 University of South Florida Plant Atlas. http://florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=1327
 University of Florida Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants. https://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/plant-directory/oeceoclades-maculata/.
 University of South Florida Plant Atlas. http://florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=2341
 University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. https://animaldiversity.org/site/accounts/information/Bufo_quercicus.html
 University of South Florida Plant Atlas. http://florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=1194