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RED BUCKEYE

Red buckeye is the only shrub or small tree in Florida with palmately compound leaves of five leaflets.

A frequent deciduous shrub or small tree of hammocks and rich mesic woods, sandhils, slopes, bluffs and ravines of the panhandle and the peninsula south into Sumter, Lake and Orange Counties. The range extends throughout the southeastern states, west into Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri, north to Illinois, Kentucky - where it is listed as threatened - West Virginia and VIrginia, plus Ontario.
The leaflets are elliptic, finely toothed and 5-15 cm (2-6 in.) long. The flowers are borne in panicles and are typically red but sometimes red and yellow, as seen here. The fruit is a light brown round capsule 3-6cm (1-1/8 - 2-3/8 in.) in diameter that splits open and contains several hard reddish-brown poisonous seeds.
Some consider buckeyes in the Sapindaceae or soapberry family while others separate them into Hippocastanaceae - the buckeye or horse-chestnut family. A. pavia is the only buckeye found in Florida and can grow to 12 m (almost 40 ft.) tall, although it is usually less.



Shuttle Discovery Launch over Ponce Inlet Lighthouse

This is not nature, but shuttle launches are very much a part of Florida, and they will soon be extinct, with the last mission scheduled for May 2010.

On Sunday, March 15, 2009 the space shuttle Discovery was launched shortly before sunset. This photo was taken in Ponce Inlet, about 40 miles up the coast from the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center. In the foreground is the Ponce Inlet lighthouse. If you look closely, you can see the solid rocket boosters trailing behind the shuttle, shortly after separation. Click the photo or the heading for an opportunity to view this photo larger and see other launch photos.
Purchase Discovery Liftoff Over Ponce Inlet Lighthouse by Paul Rebmann Purchase Discovery Booster Separation over Ponce Inlet Lighthouse by Paul Rebmann Purchase Discovery Sunset Plume by Paul Rebmann



SMALL BUTTERWORT

The butterworts have basal rosettes of small succulent leaves with an upper sticky surface and curled edges to trap insects to nourish this carnivorous plant.

A frequent acaulescent plant of flatwoods throughout most of Florida. The range extends through the southeastern coastal states from North Carolina to Texas, plus Oklahoma.
Pinguicula pumila has small white, sometimes blue, violet, or pink, flowers on top of a leafless stalk, or scape, which is covered with tiny glandular trichomes. This species can be differentiated from the others of the genus in Florida by not having a palate that extends beyond the throat of the corolla, as well as the small size of the flower, less than 1.8 cm ( ~3/4 in.) in length, including the spur. Small butterworts bloom mostly in winter and spring.
On June 18, 2009, this photo won honorable mention in the "Florida Invertebrates and/or Wildflowers" category of the Orange Audubon Society's 2009 Kit & Sidney Chertok Nature Photography Contest.
Small Butterwort by Paul Rebmann



RING-BILLED GULL

A very common gull both along the coasts and inland around fresh water, also found in open areas such as landfills, golf courses and parking lots, they are less populous in Florida during the summer.

The winter range extends throughout the southern United States and Mexico and up the coasts to British Columbia and Maine, plus around the Great lakes. The breeding range includes the west coast from Northern California into British Columbia and eastward around the Great Lakes to New Brunswick and Newfoundland.
The sexes of Larus delawarensis appear similar with the males slightly larger. Adults have a white head and underside, a light gray back and black wingtips with white spots. The bill is yellow with a black ring near the tip and the legs are also yellow. Juvenile and first year plumage varies including the bill and legs being pink instead of yellow until the second winter. This featured photo is of a first winter ring-billed gull.



GOLDEN CLUB

This plant can be found in shallow water throughout much of Florida and the southeastern United States.

The range extends west to Texas, north into the states south of the Ohio River and up through the mid-Atlantic as far north as New York and Massachusetts.
The large leaves grow above and sometimes floating on the water from stout rhizomes in the mud. The tiny yellow flowers cover the tip of a club-like structure that grows separate from the leaves. Golden club is mildly poisonous if ingested and all parts of the plant can cause skin irritation. However, the roots and seeds can be eaten if properly handled and prepared.
The name neverwet comes from the characteristic of the leaves to shed water.



EASTERN TOWHEE

A common year-round resident of scrubby areas throughout Florida, Pipilo erythrophthalmus is the only towhee in Florida and most of its range.

They are found from Texas and Oklahoma throughout the southeast, north into the Ohio River valley in the winter and north into southern Canada in the summer.
Towhees are the largest of the sparrows, 17-21 cm (7-8 in.) long with a wingspan of 20-28 cm (8-11 in.). The dark head, neck and back are black in males and brown in females. They have a white underside, rufous flanks and a white spot on the wing. The eyes are red throughout much if the range, but in Florida and southern Georgia the eyes are a pale yellow, or straw colored.
Eastern towhees feed on seeds, fruits, spiders, insects and other invertebrates, foraging on the ground with a two-footed backwards hop. The sound of this energetic scratching can often alert birders to the presence of these birds, which are also sometimes called rufus- or rufous-sided towhees.