“Oh, do doodle! Doodle, do!” urges Frogma. I went, I saw, I drew. However, I cannot identify:
When you are in a native forest of Key Largo, called a hammock, you will find not palms, but poisonwood, wild coffee (can’t drink anything it produces), hogplum (edible fruits), buttonwood, bahamian trees. I’m very sorry, but even standing in front of the wooden and brass plaques of the park, I could not tell the differences. It all looked like poisonwood to me. Poisonwood bears a fruit that the white crowned pigeon thrives upon. Do NOT touch poisonwood! when you go into the woods, do NOT use anything on the forest ground as toilet paper.
Beautiful mangroves send roots into the salty water, creating an ecosystem that supports many species of animals, both in the water and above. Purslane also grows in the salty ground and is delicious.
As unnative as the palm trees are cycads (with the exception of the species Zamia). Cycads are fascinating plants, “living fossils”, as they come from a period of around 200 million years ago — even before dinosaurs. I love them because they are so bizarre looking. Some plants will sport a huge giant cone in the center with strange fronds radiating out; one species in Africa bears a cone that is almost 90 lbs.
The Fairchild Botanical Gardens in Coral Gables has a wonderful collection of everything. There was not enough time to draw the alien looking trees, but here are the seeds of seven species of cycads that dropped their treasures on the ground. Our own New York Botanical Garden also has cycads in the Conservatory.
This is quite the alarmist post: do not eat cycad seeds. The flesh may contain a neurotoxin that might make you contract encephalitis. The warning goes out also for eating bats or game that might eat the cycad fruit. Professionals do make a flour and bread with the pulp, but those people know what they are doing.
I have planted every single seed pictured here. I’ll let you know if anything sprouts! –As of 24april, nothing but cups of dirt… : (
16sept2009: the cycads seeds resolve to remain dormant until the next ice age’s thaw. I shall harbor them until then…and plant herbs over them in the meantime.