Pollen Bathing

Helianthus annuus and Apis mellifera

“So the colors of flowers have evolved to ideally tickle the eyes of bees, and I think that’s a truly wondrous result. It means that beauty, as we know it, is not only in the eye of the beholder, it arises because of that eye.”

-Ed Yong

Helianthus annuus

Quick Work

Danaus plexippus on Rudbeckia hirta

A sharp-eyed third grader discovers this black and yellow curiosity tucked under the leaf of a black-eyed Susan while planting the butterfly garden at school.

Danaus plexippus on Rudbeckia hirta

The caterpillar morphs into this chrysalis in under an hour’s time. We’re awestruck.

Shaving Brush Tree

Pseudobombax ellipticum

Elongated acorns occupy branches once all the leaves fall in late winter.

Pseudobombax ellipticum

Pink blows up brown every night.

Pseudobombax ellipticum

Pseudobombax ellipticum

The Pseudobombax pollinator block party swarms for weeks. Can you hear the dembow?

Ubiquitous Fruit

Chrysobalanus icaco

Cocoplum shrubs are everywhere in Southwest Florida, and the fruit is high in vitamin C.

Chrysobalanus icaco

Tasty trailside nibbles, cocoplums are often found near water. Click here for a cocoplum jam recipe.

Naples Botanical Garden Littoral Zone

The Great Kapok Seed

Ceiba pentandra

Hundreds of windblown puffballs stuck to a stretch of fence along Palm Beach Boulevard suggest a truckload of pillows exploded in a vehicle crash nearby.

Ceiba pentandra

A closer look reveals a black seed within each puff.

Ceiba pentandra

After sharing Lynne Cherry’s The Great Kapok Tree and discussing rainforest conservation with third graders year after year, the new neighbor meets this Central American wonder in person.

Ceiba pentandra and Abrus precatorius

Deadly Peas in the Backyard

Abrus precatorius

Whether Latrodectus or Micrurus, some red flags are more duotone. This one’s popping in the backyard.

Abrus precatorius

In the words of Amy Stewart, author of Wicked Plants, “The poison at work within rosary peas is abrin, which is similar to ricin, found in castor beans. Abrin attaches itself to cell membranes and prevents cells from making protein, which kills them.” Stay away.

Brazilian Pepper

Schinus terebinthifolia

After foraging in Punta Gorda with Green Deane, Brazilian pepper seems to pop up everywhere (as invasives do). The plan is to roast and grind the sweet and spicy berries, then sprinkle over popcorn.

Schinus terebinthifolia

Click here for more about a storied ornamental listed on the Florida Department of Agriculture’s Noxious Weed List.

Swamp Lily

Crinum americanum

Billy Creek Preserve and Filter Marsh

Blocks from strip malls on four lanes of fifty mile an hour traffic straddling a median crossed at dawn and dusk by Guatemalan day laborers rests fifty-six acres of marsh designed and engineered to clean and filter water destined for the Caloosahatchee. It’s a rad place to ride your bike.

Billy Creek Preserve and Filter Marsh

Click here for more about the preserve.