The following is by OSFR board member Kristin Rubin, who participated in the recent hike along the Santa Fe River, led by botanist Dr. Colette Jacono. This is the second hike led by Dr. Jacono as a part of RiverFest 2018. Both hikes proved to be very popular, as it turns out the plant world is huge and largely unidentified in the mind of the average individual.
Thanks to Colette for leading the hike and to Kristin for writing about it
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-
Hi everyone! Saturday my husband Jack, and I joined an incredible group of people who were as fascinated as we were at the differences in plants that made up the hardwood forest located at the 47 bridge, just a bit downstream on the Santa Fe River from our first hike at Rum Island. There were the similarities as well as the differences as that was our theme in learning how to recognize the characteristics for identifying plants – if only you take the time to look and listen, and yes, touch and smell.
I was amazed by the shared energy of such an eclectic group of unique people, as together we were impacted by the surreal landscape created by the high tree canopy and leaf, fern and lily-littered floor!
We were a group of all ages, different backgrounds and a common interest: a woman who came only because of the young lady she brought, but who soon became as fascinated as the others; another, a great aged lady from across the ocean who knew so much about the plants around us; the two young ladies who caught up with us in the woods and asked for the plant list to be able to follow along in learning names. They were like living sponges for information. There was a professor from another state who was super interested in exploring this part of the world, and two teachers from southern counties looking forward to sharing their experiences when back in the classroom. Again, those differences and similarities!
The 47 bridge tract is a conservation area within the Suwannee River Water Management District. The community is hardwood floodplain forest overlying limestone substrate. The area we traversed was dominated by Carpinus caroliniana, Celtis laevegata, and Ulmus americana for which we compared leaf margins and contrasted leaf shape, trunk and bark, and fruit.
I cannot believe that these are the first ‘plant’ hikes I have had the pleasure of participating in, that have been so finely tuned with nature. I love botanical gardens and tea cup gardens, like most of us do, but I cannot begin to convey the thrill of walking in pristine woods, seeing the light play on the trees, the leaves dancing in the wind and smelling the damp earth of the receding ponds, as all this is changing before our eyes. Waking up from winter’s dormancy, and literally springing into life.
Have you ever visited a museum or art gallery and am overwhelmed by the colors, the shapes, the information? These hikes are like that and I have a solution: we need more of them, we need discussions about this wonderful plant world that inhabits our river banks. These plants lived along the river long before we came in to build our homes and ramps, and by learning about them we can also learn to nurture them.
Remember, this is a symbiotic relationship, plants do not grow without water, we do do not survive without water. Water comes first, the rest follows.
Now go take a hike on the wild side.
Photos one and four by Tris Meucci via Sharon Yeago; two and three by Kristin Rubin