Florida Keys.    James Smith
   May 01, 2007 17:42 PDT 

Hello, all.

Sorry for the long absence. I spent most of the past two weeks in the
Florida Keys. This was a most alien landscape for me, and I found myself
in total ignorance of almost every tree I saw. This was the first place
I can recall seeing coconut palms! I was surprised to discover that the
only pine growing in the lower Keys are slash pines. I hiked through an
extensive slash pine forest, about a third of which was dead, although I
don't know what killed the trees. Since there were vast stands of
healthy pines in close proximity to the dead trees, I will assume it may
have been because of salt water intrusion due to Hurricane Wilma (two
years ago). But I don't know.

Some of you take a look at the photo album I've set up and identify some
of the stuff for me. I noticed a low vine growing on Bahia Honda Key
(where I was staying in my travel trailer). This vine had a very spiny,
and woody seed pod. I opened one with a knife--after much
struggling--and found a fat, green seed inside. I hope it's good to eat,
after the plant has gone to so much trouble to protect the seed.

At Key West I was stunned to find a trio of enormous Kapok trees growing
in front of the government building on Truman Street. I've posted
several shots of these amazing trees.

Also took a high-speed catamaran out to the Dry Tortugas National Park
to go snorkeling, but managed to get some shots of some gnarled old
Buttonwood trees inside the fort, and some date palms growing outside
the fort. All in all, it was a great chance for me to see some very
strange (new) plants.

Re: Florida Keys.   Edward Frank
  May 01, 2007 18:46 PDT 


There is a tour of Champion Trees of Key West on the web at:


Because the keys are different in terms of vegetation there are many
national champions in the area as this is often the only place in the
country in which they grow.

More tree photos here:

Florida Native Plants

The Florida Keys

The Florida Keys Wildlife and Environmental Area

Florida Keys Wetlands


RE: Florida Keys.   Willard Fell
  May 01, 2007 19:13 PDT 
The vine with the purple flower is known as the Railroad Vine or Ipomoea pes-capra. It is an evergreen morning glory with fleshy leaves that is common on the dunes of GA and FL. The other flower looks like it is in the milkweed family.

You are probably right about the Slash dying from salt water. The soils are very thin to non existant over the S. Florida Rocklands and any salt water intrusion from storms or drought will damage them. We have lost a lot on coastal hammocks during droughts.
RE: Florida Keys.   wad-@comcast.net
  May 02, 2007 14:21 PDT 

The orange flowers are of Mexican milkweed. A favorite food of Monarchs. We plant them as an annual here in Pa. and they are just stubs by fall due to the feeding of the monarchs.