Prairie restoration with Carex

Prairie restoration requires a background in identifying species, especially difficult genera as Carex in Cyperaceae, the sedge family. The sand prairies along the Lake Michigan beach-plain are different from the inland prairies with clay loam soil and they have different species. Linda W. Curtis has inventoried the prairies in both southeast Wisconsin and northeast Illinois. Her books Woodland Carex and Bog-fen Carex reveal that although a few are in common, there are differences. 8-13-2022

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New rare Carex

Carex verrucosa was found in Citrus County Florida by Linda W. curtis, Carexpert and Carexmatic speaker. A new county record, C. verrucosa was discovered in Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park in a depression marsh near a dome swamp. All specimens are taken with a Florida FEPA permit to collect and sent to University of Florida Herbarium at Florida State Natural History Museum as a voucher.

 

 

 

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Carex of Rainbow Springs, Dunnellon, Fl

Searching for Carex at Rainbow Springs in Dunnellon, Florida, began at the canoe and kayak lauch site along the Rainbow River near the campground in the RSSP South Unit.

Species found were C. fissa var. aristata, C. gholsonii, C. godfreyi, C. longii and C. vexans in March 2018, the beginning of sedge season in Central Florida.

The RSSP north unit is separated from the south unit by a home subdivision but connected by a tram trail. The north unit has more vegetation communities including cypress domes and therefore more species that are habitat specific.

Although 27 species of Carex are known in Marion County by University herbarium voucher specimens, the entire state has 77 species (Hansen & Wunderlin 2011) and includes the Panhandle. This research will add to the FDEP and FNPI plant inventories.

All species will have gps data on the photographs taken in the field and later transferred to images after micro-digital photography.

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Gnats in the Pulpit

Writing Gnats in the Pulpit

Linda W. Curtis

When writing the article for Wisconsin Entomological Society in 2018, I discovered the editor had no gnat images to accompany the article. And, as luck would have it, my husband and I ate lunch at our local restaurant and a gnat flew around my face, truly bugging me. I made a swat, and it landed in my fresh bowl of potato soup. Since it was on its back, legs waving in the air, I realized my golden opportunity. With the empty crackers wrapper, I carefully lifted it up and out, put it in a foam cup and then to my tote bag. I ate the soup, and once home I went to my digital lab to image the poor mini-beast. Red eyes glared up at me through the microscope, which I could not see otherwise, even through my bifocals. An intricate insect anatomy was revealed, only two wings, but long spidery legs. How did it manage to get about in the small spaces within a Jack-in-the pulpit spathe? Apparently the male Jack has more space for the gnats to move and escape, but the female Jill-in-the-pulpit has a “death trap” of entry without exit. So a gnat dies in the line of insect duty of pollination by compulsion for aroma. Once its function is done, obsolescence is the consequence.

If you wish to make an anthropomorphic comment, please do so. lcurtisbotanist@ameritech.net            Lindaeus

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Three Sisters Springs Crystal River, Fl Sandhill cranes

Back to Florida with some Sandhill cranes

A pair of Sandhill Cranes

A pair of Sandhill Cranes

When Jim and Linda Curtis returned to Florida to resume their plant research at Three Sisters Springs, a pair of just migrated sandhill cranes met them at the entrance. Although successful nesting resulted in healthy young 2 years ago, last year a bobcat is believed to have raided the nest. Jim noted the male crane was taller than he, 6 feet, and could likely protect the nest with that enormous beak.

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Carex of Illinois Audubon Gremel Wildlife Sanctuary 2018

Carex search 2017- 2018

A total of twenty five Carex species were found during 2017-2018 by Linda Curtis, Specimens were kept fresh and digitally imaged with a camera-microscope.

GPS locations were recorded by photographer husband James Curtis.

Sedge meadows with many Carex species were preferred hay for early farmers as it was believed more nutritious than pasture hay because of the many seed heads which provide more protein. For wildlife, especially birds, the seed heads offer year around food, especially during the harsh winter months.

 

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Three Sisters Springs Crystal River Florida

The Three Sisters Springs

Linda Curtis, volunteer botanist

Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River Florida has lost most of its hydric forest trees and understory plants due to prepping for development and later a small pine plantation.

A plan to return some of the native trees and shrubs by the Citrus County chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society has some success, considering the difficulty in planting saplings and shrubs from pots into a bored hold in the limestone. Unless the plants can grow roots into fissures in the limestone, the roots grow around and around and eventually the upper plant perishes.

Linda Curtis, volunteer, assessed  plantings in 2017 & 3018 and has recommended signage with 3-4 inch font readable by the tourists on the plank walk. Another area needing signage is the trail to the east of the parking lot which takes sight-seers to the tidal restoration creeks that is now abundant in wetland plants that support invertebrates and birds.  The new inlet/outlets for the two  daily  high and low tides have been planted with native trees  including cypress, red maple, sweetgum, Carolina willow. Sedges and rushes dominate the wetland high tide zone.

Trees grown in large pots were planted in boreholes around the manatee lagoon. Some of the former large trees were removed for shoreline repair and rock stabilization.  Shrubs, ferns and other herbaceous plant were placed between the plank walk and the lagoon shore. The almost unseen Carex sedges appear as small grassy tufts.

Image below shows water oak, Quercus nigra on left, fronds of young Sable palms, Sabal palmetto, the evergreen red cedar, Junipers virginiana and a yucca. The goal was a no-mow zone as a barrier to prevent snorkelers, kayakers, and swimmers from  entering land side. Initiated by former U.S. F&W director Michael Lusk, he  placed flags for the new plants position. Some of the trees were run over by the manatee rescue truck during a dilemma, but most of the twenty-some trees remain. In 2017 and January-May 2018, and 4 years later, the planted trees from CCNPS were tape measured at one foot above soil line, height recorded and general condition noted. The most robust was red buckeye, Aesculus pavia,  nearest the end of the plank walk at the manatee entry/exit channel. A small tree with red-stemmed compound leaves and pretty red flowers, the tourists are certain to enjoy this small tree/shrub.

Image taken of the manatee lagoon near the trolley unloading area from the  plank walk.

Manatee Lagoon

Manatee Lagoon

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New Three Sisters Springs 2016 Report

The Vegetation of Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River, Florida is an ongoing research. While the 2012 report covered only Carex, the 2014 also included associates, while the 2015 report included plant inventories from Crystal River State Wildlife Refuge and other  preserves Chassahowitzka and Waccasassa. The 2016 report covered the Wetlands Treatment Project and its restoration plantings of trees, shrubs, palms, vines, and ferns. The 2017 report covered the herbaceous plants and updates. Reports of 2018 and 2019 included more images of the Wetland Treatment Project plants.

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Sedges: Wild Ones Journal Summer 2016

Sedges, what good are they? An article with images of Carex

Sedges, what good are they? An article with images of Carex

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“Ouch!”

Article for WES, Wisconsin Entomological Society Oct 2015 by Linda W. Curtis

One of my friends is an emergency room nurse at the local hospital. I asked her if she knew of any insect-cause problems and she answer, “Oh yes! Why, just this week…” and related an incident of someone sitting on a caterpillar with stinging hairs. Not life threatening, but certainly uncomfortable and embarrassing to explain why he preferred standing to sitting for a few days.

Turns out, I discover the culprit, a saddleback caterpillar, Acharia stimuli on a twig and carried it home to image under the digital microscope. Than an information search revealed that the stiff hairs were natural hypodermic needles with venom glands at the base. Stinging hairs are one thing, while poisonous hairs are another and a serious rash and nausea can follow.

Fig. 3 Buckeye cat Linda Curtis

 

Mimicry works for caterpillars with spines or brists even if they are not harmful because predators avoid them. For instance, the buckeye caterpillar, Junonia coenia, looks menacing, but is not. The adult butterfly stage also has a “startle effect” with eyespots on the wings.

On the other hand, the saddleback caterpillar has a rather ordinary gray-winged adult mouth the serves as camouflage, blending it into the tree trunk texture. That function is more “not seen, not eaten” instead of “watch out!”

Linda W. Curtis

 

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