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POLLARDII CACTUS

Opuntia pollardii, POLLARDII CACTUS

The species Opuntia pollardii was first described by John Kunkel Small in 1908 and has been usually considered the same species as O. humifusa. More recently botanists, including Lucas Majure of the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, AZ., have supported returning O. pollardii as a distinct species.
This species was named for Charles Louis Pollard (1872-1945), who in 1896 while Assistant Curator for the United States National Museum collected the specimen that became the O. pollardii isotype in Harrison County (near Biloxi), Mississippi. Pollard was author of The Families of Flowering Plants, a supplement to The Plant World, Volumes II, IV & V (1900-1902). In that publication he described the characteristics of typical cactus "... the great majority have swollen, spherical, jointed or angular stems, with practically no leaves whatever, the latter being represented by minute spines and their place being taken by clusters of sharp spines. The flowers are usually regular, with a calyx of numerous combined sepals, and a corolla of numerous petals. The stamens, which have very long filaments, are also innumerable. The ovary is one-celled with a single style and several stigmas. The fruit is fleshy and frequently edible, with a pleasant sub-acid flavor."

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AMERICAN COOT

This coot was photographed on one of the lakes in Ormond Beach's Central Park.

Fulica americana, AMERICAN COOT

A common bird of freshwater wetlands year-round throughout much of the peninsula and the panhandle in the winter. The range includes most of the United States, year-round or winter in the southern states, extending into the midwest and Canada during the summer. Appearing somewhat duck-like, but with a bill like moorhens and gallinules, and lacking webbed feet. Stocky, smaller than most ducks and floats high on the water. The color is dark gray to black with a white bill. Adults have a small red patch on the forehead that is usually only noticeable at close range.
Coots eat mostly aquatic vegetation, including algae, but occasionally feed on small insects, crustaceans, snails and more.


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FLUTED BIRD'S NEST

In 2016 while leaving town in advance of hurricane Matthew, I saw a mushroom fairy ring for the first time in my life along the side of the road. This year, next door to where we sheltered during hurricane Irma, there was another fungi previously unseen by me, this time one of the bird's nests.

Cyathus striatus, FLUTED BIRD'S NEST

These appear to be fluted bird's nests, Cyathus striatus growing out of the landscaping mulch in a residential yard. Landscape mulch is a great place to find a wide variety of fungi, both large and small.
This tiny cup fungi is less than 1cm (~3/8 in.) in diameter and is widely distributed throughout North America. For an interesting description of this fungi and how it reproduces, see the Wikipedia entry on this species