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A queen butterfly nectaring on blue mistflower in the CREW (Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed) Marsh in southwest Florida.

Queen, Blue Mistflower, Danaus gilippus, Conoclinium coelestinum

The queen butterfly is a resident of Florida and southern California south through Central America and the West Indies, into South America as far as Argentina. During the warmer seasons Danaus gilippus migrate out of this range into much of the United States except for the most northern regions.
Blue mistflower is a common perennial wildflower of floodplain forests, wet hammocks and pond margins in nearly all of Florida. The range extends throughout the southeastern United States, west into Texas to Nebraska and north to Michigan & New York.
Growing up to 40 inches, but more frequently one to three fett tall, the stems of Conoclinium coelestinum are covered with short hairs. Leaves are opposite, triangular to heart-shaped, with short petioles. The leaf surface is deeply veined and the margins are toothed (crenate-serate). The inflorescence lacks ray flowers. Thirty-five to seventy blue-purple disk flowers make up each discoid head. These heads are numerous in terminal corymbs, appearing in late spring in south Florida. Blue mistflower blooms through summer and fall in most of its range.
Along with monarchs and soldiers, queens are a member of the subfamily Danainae also known as the milkweed butterflies. Host plants are both herbs and vines of the milkweed (Asclepiadaceae) family. The diet makes both the caterpillar and butterfly extrememly distasteful to predators.


This white form of Passiflora incarnata is a rare naturally occurring native in Florida and the eastern United States.

Passiflora incarnata alba, WHITE PASSIONFLOWER

Similar to the more common purple passionflower, except that the flowers are pure white.
This distinctive flower is also known as MAYPOP, one of the more common native species in this family. A favorite larval food of the Gulf fritillary, julia and zebra butterflies, exotic and cultivated hybrid species of passionflowers can also be found in Florida. Vines can be sprawling or climbing, utilizing tendrils to cling to supports. Leaves are alternate, three-lobed and finely toothed. The showiy flowers have a fringed corolla and five each similar-looking petals and sepals. The sexual parts of a passionflower are distinctive and rise above the center of the corolla then spread and bend back down, scraping the top of visiting pollinators.


I photographed these huge mushrooms at May Prairie State Natural Area less than 2 miles from where I grew up near Manchester, Tennessee.

BERKELEY'S POLYPORE - Bondarzewia berkeleyi

This mushroom, also called Stump Blossoms, is found in hardwood forests of eastern North America, often near the bases of oaks. I was unable to find any references of this mushroom occurring in Florida, but it might.
Berkley's polypore can have one to five caps growing from a single stem, with a cluster width from 25-80cm (10 - 31.5 in.). For more information on these fungi see the Mushroom Expert page for this species. Bondarzewia berkeleyi used to be classified as Polyporus berkeleyi. The genus is named for Russian botanist, mycologist and phytopathologist Apollinari S. Bondarzew (1877-1968). The species is named for British mycologist M. J. Berkeley (1803-1889).


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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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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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