Thursday, May 8, 2014

Withlacoochee State Trail: Redbuds, May 6, 2014

Recently a botany researcher from the California Academy of Sciences contacted me seeking seeds from the southernmost redbuds in Florida. I knew there were a few redbud trees along the Withlacoochee State Trail that were close to the southern extent of the range of redbuds, so my wife and I drove over to the WST looking for them. Redbuds are all a couple of months past blooming now, which made them a bit challenging to find. Julie dropped me off at Townsen Lake Regional Park, and I rode my bicycle north along the trail, while she drove on to meet me at a restaurant in Floral City.

The online Florida Plant Atlas shows Hillsborough and Polk Counties as the southernmost counties for naturally occurring redbuds. The ones I found along the WST were in north Hernando and south Citrus Counties, several counties north of the southernmost range of redbuds.

Fortunately, several of the trees had old, dried seedpods from spring of 2013, and which were low enough for me to reach. I was able to collect about a dozen seeds each from two trees

Along the way, I stopped to photograph several wildflowers that are new to this blog.

Bluestem prickly poppy; Carolina poppy (Argemone albiflora, Papaveraceae)

Habitat: dry soils and disturbed sites.

Located at the intersection of WST and Lake Lindsey Rd near Mile Marker 31. In the background: Annual phlox (Phlox drummondii, Polemoniaceae), not native.

Wand mullein (Verbascum virgatum, Scrophulariaceae)
Not native

Habitat: roadsides, sandhills, and disturbed sites.

Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis, Fabaceae)

This cluster of redbuds is located in the village of Istachatta in a triangle area near Mile Marker 30, where Magnon Dr crosses the trail. There appear to be two clumps of redbuds separated by about 10-20 ft. Each clump consists of multple trunks. This cluster is very showy when blooming in late February. Near the bottom in the right-hand photo, several new seed pods can be seen. There were no dry seed pods within reach, so no seeds were collected from this cluster.

The bottom photo shows the Istachatta General Store, across the trail from the redbuds.

A redbud tree overhanging the eastern edge of the trail, north of the triangle cluster of redbuds, between Peterson Camp Rd and the Citrus/Hernando County border. Some of the old, dry seed pods were low enough I could reach them. Seeds collected from some of the pods are shown in the right-hand photo.

I collected seedpods and seeds from a small redbud tree near the gazebo in Floral City (intersection of WST and E. Orange Ave, near Mile Marker 23. The tree appeared to be growing naturally, not part of any landscaping.

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