There's little like a vacation to stir up the blood and help you see new perspectives. We've just returned from a 10 day trip to the Florida panhandle, where we celebrated Thanksgiving with our kids and began to get a picture of what the coming years might hold for us. One of the many enjoyable activities while we were there was a relaxing walk through a recreational area on Eglin Air Force Base. As winter really starts to descend here in Kansas and throughout much of the country, I thought it might be fun to share some of the plants I saw just a week ago, in a warmer clime....
As I started off down the trail, my first impression was of food. Lots and lots of food...for birds and other animals. Food seemed to be available everywhere I looked.
Usually not considered a beneficial plant, there was a lot of greenbrier (Smilax sp.) in the understory along the path, too. I actually like greenbrier for its wildlife versatility - the berries are great food for birds and other animals, while (as is typical for native plants) the leaves are larval food for caterpillars of several different moth species such as the turbulent phosphila and the ruby quaker. Note: the names are cool, but the adult moths are pretty cryptic, a.k.a. drab. Still, they too are food for numerous other animals. Many greenbrier vines are bristling with thorns and can serve as excellent shelter and nest protection for birds and other small animals.
There are 2 other plants that I want to highlight from this walk, but I think I'll separate them out into another post or two.