Whenever introducing land plants to students, I emphasize Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) as neither Spanish—it looks like a bearded conquistador—nor moss—it’s an angiosperm or flowering plant. Here’s the proof: wind-dispersed seeds protected by a recently split, dried pod. Mosses lack flowers, fruits, and seeds.
Also evident are the flaky trichomes, which help the plant to soak up moisture and nutrients from the atmosphere. It’s not parasitic like mistletoe nor do the live, hanging bunches contain chiggers.
Yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria) dots the understory of the maritime forests at Skidaway Island State Park.
There are all kinds of cool things about this Chrysomelidae tortoise beetle (Hemisphaerota cyanaea) on the internet, including:
- Their capacity to stick to leaves. These bizarre little, herbivorous beetles stick themselves to Saw Palmetto leaves with the help of thousands of setae (hairs) soaked in excreted oil when disturbed by a potential predator.
- Their larvae build nests from feces.
And look closely… there are POLLEN grains all over the little beetles. Can you imagine having hundreds of sticky bouncy-ball-size pollen grains attached to your body and eyes!? The micro-world of biology is fascinating.
A cloudy, winter day at Skidaway Island State Park.
Amos whines for help for a bit, then decides just to get wet.