Monthly Archives: May 2015

Witches Broom in Bird Rookery Swamp

Witches Broom at Bird Rookery Swamp

Witches Broom at Bird Rookery Swamp

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Witches Broom at Bird Rookery Swamp

Witches Broom at Bird Rookery Swamp

The clump of branches up in the Cypress tree in the Bird Rookery Swamp in Naples  looks like a birds nest but it’s not. The wide growth of the branches and twigs is called a witches broom. It grows this way as a result of an outgrowth from the tree caused by a bacterium called phytoplasma that is placed in the tree by an insect. The bacterium disrupts the hormones in the tree which regulates growth and the bunch of twigs and branches grow into a mass that resembles a large birds nest.

The witches broom is a strange sight in the Bird Rookery Swamp which is part of the    Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed (CREW). There are many more interesting natural sights in this preserve including plants, birds and animals. I saw a lot of Red Shouldered Hawks and they seem to rule the forest. During my first trip there when there was more standing water, I walked past a large alligator with a group of people led by a tour guide. Check the website for times when guided walks are given. There is a path that winds for several miles through the preserve if you like to take long walks. Just make sure you can walk back the same distance after you have hiked for awhile. There are mile markers along the way.  The heat is very oppressive in the summer months although there is a lot of shade from the tree cover. Bring water and bug spray in the hotter times of the year.

http://www.crewtrust.org/

 

 

 

Banyan Tree

Banyan Tree

Banyan Tree  –   click on pictures for larger images

Lofty Fig with air plant

Lofty Fig with air plant

There are several Banyan trees on the Edison-Ford Winter Estates property in Ft Myers including one that is supposed to be the largest in the U.S.. Thomas Edison experimented with many plants and trees to test them for their chemical properties and  industrial applications. He was looking for a source of rubber from plants and trees and he used the Banyan tree, Lofty Fig and others to see if he could extract enough resin to be used for rubber. The automobile industry was taking off and Edison wanted to supply it with products from his trees. The Banyan tree unfortunately did not live up to its expectations along with his other trees and he abandoned his efforts to cultivate his trees for this purpose.

The tree grows or spreads out by dropping shoots or branches to the ground which take hold and form new trunks or foundations of the tree. You can see from the photo the vertical trunks that seem to drop from the upper branches to the ground. The tree can grow to be very large and this one covers several acres of land. There is a statue of Thomas Edison on the other side of this tree posing in front of the Banyan.

The Banyan tree is native to India and gets its name from a term used for traders or travelers who used the tree for shade. The Banyan tree is part of the ficus or fig family of trees and they can start as an air plant or seed growing in a crevice of a tree and then growing and spreading out until it takes over its host tree. There are many other plants and trees on the Edison property which Edison experimented with. The photo next to the Banyan tree is a Lofty Fig tree with an air plant growing on it. The Bing website of images has a good collection of pictures of Banyan trees.

 

 

 

 

Gumbo Limbo Tree

Gumbo Limbo Tree

Gumbo Limbo Tree

The Gumbo Limbo Tree (Bursera simaruba)  is native to the southeastern most part of the U.S. , Caribbean and Central America.  They can grow as fast as 6-8 feet in 18 months from a seedling. They are used by homeowners for their decorative looks because of their thick trunks and  shiny red bark. They can be as thick as 1-3 ft. in diameter and grow to be 25-50 ft. tall. The bark almost appears sun burned and thus gets it nickname, “tourist tree”. The tree also gives off a resin that smells like turpentine when its bark is cut. The tree has soft bark and can be used for carving. It is surprisingly hurricane resistant despite it’s soft wood.  I saw and photographed this clump of Gumbo Limbo trees in a yard on a homeowners property just off the Sanibel Island Beach.

The Gumbo Limbo tree is one of many different species of the genus Bursera. There is an excellent website showing different types of Gumbo Limbo trees at the Univ. of Florida IFAS website. The tree starts dropping its leaves in winter and also starts producing its flowers at the same time in winter. It produces berries which are popular with birds. It is generally pest resistant except for a few insects and a fungus which can kill the tree.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pine Island Sound – Picture Gallery

I took these pictures over a course of about 2 years. They were all taken from the Sanibel Causeway with the exception of one. Pine Island Sound can be seen from a lot of vantage points including many from the Sanibel Causeway, Punta Rassa on the Ft. Myers side, Sanibel Island and Pine Island which I do not visit much because of the long drive. As you can see from the pictures there is a lot going on in the sound. The fishing is great there and people fish from boats as well as land. There are strong currents moving through Pine Island Sound so be careful when you take a boat out or swim in its waters. There are some really neat islands you can visit if you are traveling by boat including Useppa Island or Cabbage Key. Captiva Island has a cruise company which can take you out for dolphin viewings, shelling or dinner cruises. Visit Captiva Cruises to find out more about their excursions. I like Pine Island Sounds accessibility by anyone willing to drive a car to the causeway, put in a small sailboat or kayak or fish from its shores.

Pictures in this gallery are of a sunset over the Pine Island Sound, Kayak with a dog perched on front, 2 Laughing Gull Shorebirds flying over the water, Blue Heron, Windsurfers, Sailboat, View of Pine Island Sound and Kayakers and Paddle boarders.

Click on any picture to see  a larger image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pictures in this gallery are of a sunset over the Pine Island Sound, Kayak with a dog perched on front, 2 Laughing Gull Shorebirds flying over the water, Blue Heron, Windsurfers, Sailboat, View of Pine Island Sound and Kayakers and Paddleboarders.

Pine Island Sound

Windsurfing off Sanibel Causeway

Windsurfing off Sanibel Causeway

Sailing on Pine Island Sound

Sailing on Pine Island Sound

Kayaking and Paddleboarding

Kayaking and Paddleboarding

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pine Island Sound is an Aquatic Preserve and body of water that lies between Pine Island, Sanibel Island and Charlotte Harbor and covers approximately 54,000 acres of water. The Sanibel Bridge crosses the Pine Island Sound and you can get a good view of the aquatic preserve and watch people fishing, kayaking, swimming, and bird watching when you drive across the water and land bridge. I have kayaked , fished and photographed birds in the sound and enjoyed being followed by dolphins while I kayaked. I have included some of my own pictures of the sound in this article and a You Tube video of a fish boat captain cruising through the waters of Pine Island Sound. 

Pine Island Sound is ecologically diverse containing seagrass beds, oyster beds and mangroves which provide food and habitat for many types of fish and marine life. Dolphins and manatees are regularly seen swimming through it waters. The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation located on Sanibel Island is a scientific and research organizaion which monitors the health of the coastal habitats of Pine Island Sound and provides restoration efforts like restoring oyster beds, sea grass beds and mangroves.

The Great Calusa Blueway crosses Pine Island Sound and many people take advantage of the scenic views and waters in and around Pine Island Sound. The Florida Dept. of State contains some basic facts about Pine Island Sound and a map of its location in SW Florida. The waters of Pine Island Sound mix with the salty and brackish waters of the Charlotte Harbor, San Carlos Bay and Caloosahatchee River estuaries which helps to make it unique and rich in marine life.