Not the rap artist, the state! About a month ago, Jessica and I went with her family to Sarasota, Florida for a week long vacation. While staying in Florida, we visited the beach (of course) and some interesting sites! On Thursday of that week we traveled about 60 miles to Fort Myers to visit my Grandma on my mother’s side. My grandma is a permanent resident there. She took us on a swamp walk, to the Edison Ford Estate and to a few local gardens with some neat tropical and sub-tropical plants!
First, we went on a three mile swamp walk. The swamp walk is an elevated boardwalk that takes you through a variety of ecosystems with various plant and animal life including alligators, wild boars, epiphytic plants (orchids and bromeliads) and many species of trees and ferns.
This is the reason why they are called, bald cypress trees. These are actually root extensions from below which form and act as oxygen absorbers. Since the trees are in saturated/swampy sites, there is a higher water content and a lesser oxygen content in the soil. Creating ‘knees’ above ground allows the tree to get the needed oxygen for the roots.
During the swamp walk, it would open up to various bodies of water. Gators would often be seen in these areas, but more so in the evening (our walk was in the late morning)
Yes, this is a picture of an alligator! It was only about 2 feet long, but was the first one I have seen in the wild! Unfortunately, we didn’t see any large ones while we were there. My grandma said that she thought it was funny that most everyone who comes to Florida for the first time wants to see an alligator! I was scanning almost every body of water to see if I could see some poking out. Even the ones next to the mall. Hey, you never know!
Yeah, some people think I am a plant nerd and find random, plant things to be interested in. But, I think these plants are cool!
Tillandsia sp. are plants in the Bromeliad family and are also ephiphytic plants. An Epiphytic Plant is a plant that grows on another plant for mechanical support but not for nutrients. They are also called aerophytes or, air plants.
These Tillandsia sp. are growing on a Taxodium sp. tree.
Resurrection fernis an epiphytic fern that also grows on other plants without depending on soil for nutrients. When it’s dry out, they shrivel up and look like they’re dead. Once it rains, the fern comes back to life!
Tillandsia usneoides is another epiphytic plant. Known for hanging from tree limbs. This plants natural growing range is in areas such as Virginia, Florida, down to Argentina, and in other areas such as Hawaii and Australia. I have seen it on a tree in Washington State when I lived there in 2011.
Bromeliad plants don’t need soil because they have cellular, epidermal outgrowths which are able to collect water, nutrients and maintain humidity. These are called trichomes.
My grandma took us to the Edison-Ford Estate where Thomas Edison and Henry Ford both lived at one point in their life. Thomas Edison and his employees were known for their many inventions while Henry Ford was a leader in the automobile industry. They actually worked together with various projects and were close friends.
Some of you know the plant, goldenrod, Solidago sp. Edison grew a species of this plant for it’s latex content and collaborated with Henry Ford to find a reliable source of latex to make rubber!
The common snake plant which is often grown indoors by many amateur plant growers… Mostly because this plant is very hard to kill!
These trees are amazing! They get so huge! A couple of unique things about them is that they create aerial roots from their branches, which extend down to the ground, sometimes very far from the main trunk. By doing this, the aerial roots that extend downward will actually root into the soil and establish a new ‘main trunk’ and the process repeats. Over a hundred years the tree can spread to almost an acre!
We saw many unique gardens and plants in the Fort Myers area, before and after our trip to the swamp and to the Edison-Ford Estate!
And to finish, we went back to my grandma’s house to talk and say goodbye. Check out those bird of paradise!
Thanks for browsing through! Hopefully this post was enjoyable!