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

Gnats in the pulpit

by Linda Curtis

www.curistothethird.com

Gnats in the pulpit

Why aren’t bees the pollinators of Jack-in-the pulpit? Bees are attracted to bright petals and sweet nectar, of which the “Jacks” have neither. Instead,they exude musty mushroom aroma that attracts gnats fly under the arched spathe hood, bonk their heads and fall into the base. Although it’s dark down there, that’s where the flowers are. If the gnat falls into a male plant, it will wander around in the base, getting messy with pollen, until it can get up and out. And where does it fly to? To that wonderful aroma of its larval home in decaying mushrooms, now emitted from the female plant sometimes called Jill-in-the-pulpit.

Jack-in-the-pulpits germinate from seed; young plants may have both male and female flowers in their spadix or pulpit. Eventually, they are either all male with stamens and pollen, or all female with ova that become red fleshy berries after gnats carried pollen to them from a male plant.

Usually, plant economics determines whether a female plant will remain female, or become a male the next year. An abundant year with many berries depletes the bulb-like corms in the soil. As a result, not enough food storage determines that the plant will be male next year and only produce stamens with pollen deep in the base. Pollen is less expensive to make and the males can build up their corms with the food produced in the leaves.

Next year, voila, a female plant can produce a large head of berries if enough gnats bearing pollen again fly up into the hood and fall down to the female stigmas in the base. While the male plant has entries in and out of its basal flowers, the female has only entries, no exits, and the gnats, along with some thrips, become detritus at the base, g’naturally.

This article published in the Wisconsin Entomological Society Newsletter, 2018 by Linda Curtis, author of Woodland Carex and Bog-Fen Carex of the Upper Midwest.

Text from image

Arisaema triphyllum

Jack-in-the-pulpit

The pulpit or spadix has either male or female flowers.

Gnats are attracted the fungal like aroma and carry pollen from a male plant to a female plant.

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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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Harbinger Vol 33 No 4 Winter 2016

 

Do Bison eat Carex?

Bison at Nachsa

Bison at Nachsa with calves. Photo by Jim Curtis

Nachusa Grasslands are south and west of Rockford, Illinois. The bison herd eats an assortment of prairie plants including grasses and sedges. Linda & Jim Curtis recorded gps of sedges Carex at Nachusa Grasslands in 2016 and will investigate the preferred Carex as foods.

 Click here for Harbinger_Vol33_No4_Winter2016

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New Three Sisters Springs 2016 Report

The Vegetation of Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River, Florida is an ongoing

research on a much disturbed property. The 2016 report covers the restoration trees, shrubs, palms, vines, and ferns. The 2017 report will cover the herbaceous plants and updates on any newly reported from 2016.

 

Email Linda at lcurtisbotanist@ameritech.net if you would like an 18 page

pdf file.

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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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