Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Adventure and Beauty in the Everglades

 

 

PLANT TALK
Mike Malloy
mikemalloy@naplesbutterfly.com

For many years, the South Florida Plant Pickers have traversed the East Trail (US-41) through the Everglades. Bound for either Miami or Homestead, we are on a mission to find the most beautiful and unique tropical plants to bring back to Naples. We are constantly searching for that rare and special plant not found at your local gardening center. And, when we find it, we feels like we’ve struck gold!

The South Florida Plant Pickers are a group of dedicated local plant enthusiasts who provide entertaining and informative YouTube videos and articles on

Muhley Grass.

Muhley Grass.

the purchase and care of tropical plants.

Every week we brave the elements as we peruse hundreds of plant, tree and flower varieties unique to South Florida. We frequently cross paths with various tame, and not-so-tame, wildlife on our plant-seeking quests. Kudos to our videographer Maureen Imes, whose bravery, patience and sense of humor has served us well throughout our adventure-filled journeys.

Nearly 2,000 horticultural species and a plethora of wildlife thrive in the Everglades, also known as the River of Grass; a unique and unparalleled ecosystem located just outside of Naples. The South Florida Plant Pickers can

Morning Glory.

Morning Glory.

only hope to scratch the surface in exploring this vast botanical wilderness.

The adventure usually begins as we’re driving down the highway. One of us spots something that catches our eye, and we instinctively pull over to examine it more closely. As we walk toward our newest discovery, we spot something else in the distance that is even more spectacular. Next thing we know, we’re miles from our van and suddenly notice that it’s really hot in the Everglades during the summer! And quiet, too, except for an occasional vehicle driving by. We consider ourselves lucky to

Yellow Top.

Yellow Top.

be able to witness this vast natural beauty firsthand on our weekly trek to the East Coast.

Speaking of natural beauty, on a recent trip we discovered a sea of spectacular yellow wildflowers in bloom as far as the eye could see. Such intense blooming commonly occurs after a prescribed burn, which highly benefits the land. We also came across miles and miles of striking white star-like blooms dotting the fields and marshes. Upon closer examination, we identified them as Swamp and Spider Lilies. There were also an abundance of pretty native Morning Glories, Pickerelweed, Alligator Flag

Seaside Goldenrod. PHOTOS BY MIKE MALLOY

Seaside Goldenrod. PHOTOS BY MIKE MALLOY

and Splatter Dock. Unfortunately, there were plenty of Water Hyacinth, too, an evasive, exotic plant species that requires immediate attention. They are progressively overcrowding our South Florida waterways, but I’ll save that discussion for another article.

The next time you’re in the mood for a mini adventure, along with some amazing scenery, head south on the East Trail through the Everglades, and experience what South Florida is really all about. KEEP BUTTERFLYING!!!

 

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Several wildflowers you’ll see during your journey through the awe-inspiring River of Grass:
Alligator Flag
Seaside Goldenrod
Native Milkweed (Tuberosa)
Bladderwort
Native Suberosa Passion Vine
Duck Potato
Tickseed (Bidens Alba)
Coreopsis
Native Aster
Wild Petunia
White Wild Sage
Pickerel weed
and about 2,000 more.

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