Based on the splendid book Exploring Florida’s Botanical Wonders by Sandra Friend I set out this week-end in pursuit of Pitcher Plants and other botanical curiosities. [gallery] My first stop was the Cellon Live Oak in northern Alachua County. I was standing almost under the tree when I took this HDR shot. Notice the moss near the top is hanging at a different angle! [Still getting used to handling a fisheye lens, hard to keep my hand out of the picture!.]
I stopped several times to photograph the abundant roadside flowers. I was especially drawn to these orange “paintbrush” that occurred at only one spot along I-10.
I finally arrived at Clear Creek around 6pm local time (different time zone!). The trailhead is located at the back of a (defunct?) trailer park just to the left of the main gate of Whiting Field Naval Air Station. The road was blocked so I parked in a small lot near the main road and walked to the back where the trail starts. The whole experience was a bit surreal. There was nobody around so I had the place to myself.
The trail proceeds through three ecological regions [map] as you descend into a ravine. At the bottom is a long boardwalk with clumps of White-Topped Pitcher Plants (Sarracenia leucophylla) and Golden Club (Orontium aquaticum) everywhere! It was a bit frustrating to be up on the walkway with a very limited range of viewing angles. I took most of these photographs with a 400mm equivalent lens. I walk the entire site twice over two hours and headed back to my car at dusk.
I spent the night in a cheap but adequate motel in Pensacola. The next day dawned rainy and I headed for Yellow River Marsh Preserve State Park. My frustration from the day before was lifted since this is an unimproved site with numerous beautiful plants strewn about. Check page 2 of the gallery for several striking photos from this site.
Unfortunately the weather was gradually getting worse. I ended my exploration with a wet walk around the loop trail at Garcon Point Preserve. I got back to my car just in time and drove away in a tropical downpour.
There is more information online about Florida’s fascinating pitcher and other carnivorous plants.