Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Prairie Wildflower Walk

Sponsored by the Friends of Kissimmee Prairie Preserve


When most people think of prairie they think of the Midwest; flat, treeless land with acres upon acres of wheat or corn. Few conjure an image of dwarf palmetto and wiregrass stretching to the horizon, interrupted only by sparse hammocks of cabbage palm and small seasonal ponds. Yet Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park, located in rural Okeechobee, is just that. KPP protects the largest remaining tract of the unique Florida dry prairie. Its 54,000 acres contain a mosaic of dry prairie, wet prairie, marshes, sloughs, cabbage palm and oak hammocks, flood plain - no less than 14 distinct natural communities - which sustain a vast and diverse array of flora and fauna. This is prairie in Florida, shaped by the sea, maintained by frequent fire, and with its own history. This is the land made famous by author Patrick Smith in A Land Remembered.


In the fall, the Florida dry prairie is ablaze with color and texture: rich yellow goldenrods and sunflowers, purple blue Liatris and Carphephorus, and tall, tawny grasses sway gently among the bright green saw palmettos. (as seen in the photo above). This spectacular sight is not to be missed. Fortunately for all of us, Roger Hammer and Craig Huegel, two of Florida's most recognized wildflower experts, will lead two wildflower walks at Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park on November 1, 2014. Their extensive knowledge of Florida's flora, along with their well known wit and humor, are guaranteed to emake the trip both educational and entertaining.

All aboard the Swamp Buggy Express!
Participants may also sign up for a free 45 minute buggy ride in the prairie.

Cost for the plant walk is $24 for Friends of Kissimmee Prairie Preserve members and $34 for non-members. Walks are scheduled at both 9:30 am and 1:30 pm and are limited to 20 participants each - first come, first serve.

To register, and for more information, visit: http://www.kissimmeeprairiefriends.org
Click on "Special Event" on the home page.
Roger Hammer is a well known author, photographer and botanist, with several excellent guides to Florida wildflowers. He is a very sought after speaker and workshop leader. He holds an Honorary Doctor of Science from Florida International University and has received numerous awards for his work as a naturalist from the Florida Native Plant Society, Audubon Society and the North American Butterfly Association.

Craig Huegel is an accomplished Ecologist, Environmental Consultant and author. He is an expert in the design of wildlife-attracting landscapes in Florida. Craig is the author of several very popular books on wildflowers and native plant landscaping for wildlife. He has a Ph.D. in Animal Ecology from Iowa State University and has received numerous awards for his environmental education, restoration and preservation work.



Additional Photos taken at KPP

The inflorescences of these grasses give the prairie a mist-like glow
Eastern meadowlark (Sturnella magna) among the goldenrods (Solidago spp.)
 D.Y.C.s (darn yellow composites) might be hard to key out but they're cheerful to look at
This could be you!
Florida Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo osceola)
Blazing star (Liatris spp.) and Skipper butterfly
The rare is commonplace at KPP. Clockwise from top left:
Bachman's sparrow, Catesby's lily, crested caracara and zebra swallowtail

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Text provided by the Friends of Kissimmee Prairie Preserve
Photos courtesy of Donna Bollenbach, Christina Evans, Stan Czaplicki, Craig Huegel, and Paul Marcellini
Posted and edited by Laurie Sheldon