November Wildflowers in Key West – 2018

Key West Field Guide, vegetable

Click on the flower names at the bottom of this post for more images and links to species information.

Frangipani hornworm caterpillar

animal, Key West Field Guide

Pseudosphinx tetrio

Although most people who walked by while I was admiring this caterpillar shared the wonder of such a gigantic, colorful creature by taking photos and watching it wander down the sidewalk, a few imparted more negative opinions. One informed me that it would bite me (it didn’t). That it would burn me like “muriatic acid” (it didn’t). And a third suggested I would catch a disease (haven’t appeared to). But none of these people knew the name of the caterpillar or even what it fed on. After identifying this larva online, I transported him to the nearest frangipani tree about 200 yards away, which had about 5 other Pseudosphinx tetrio caterpillars munching on the leathery leaves. Moral of this story- assess the risks and decide for yourself. If it has a mouth, it can bite. (I’d probably survive.) It could sting. (Again, I’d probably survive.) And truthfully, if I got sick from a caterpillar, I’d probably think it was worth the novelty. (And I’d probably survive.)

Pseudosphinx tetrio caterpillar

Pseudosphinx tetrio caterpillar

And for true excitement, topped only by watching paint dry, some video of the caterpillar munching on a frangipani leaf.

 

nic·ti·tate

animal, vo•cab•u•lar•y

(v.) to wink

Whether you’re a bird or a human, a nap during the day is pure luxury. It only can be accomplished when there is nothing urgent to be done, when there is time to relax and shut out the world. For me, though, the best part of a nap is when I wake just enough to recognize that I am no longer sleeping and slowly become aware, but not yet a part, of the world around me. In this regard, I envy birds and their third eyelids.

Bitter melon

Key West Field Guide, vegetable

Momordica charantia

Find more info here.

Momordica charantia female flower

Momordica charantia new flower bud

Momordica charantia day old female flower

Momordica charantia leaf

Momordica charantia fruit with insect tunneling evidence

Momordica charantia fruit showing seeds

Momordica charantia empty fruit husk

Momordica charantia flowers

mi·nus·cule

animal, Key West Field Guide, vo•cab•u•lar•y

(adj.) extremely small

Mini beach combing finds on a penny

On solitary walks, I tend to get caught up trying to remember the names of the flowers, the sea beans, the sea shells, the wildlife. Each familiar plant or animal gives me a friendly face to greet.

I’m never lonely in nature, even when I am alone.

But occasionally, the world seems too big, too crowded, too busy, too much.

ru•der•al:

vegetable, vo•cab•u•lar•y

(adj.) growing in disturbed areas, on waste ground, or among rubbish

I live on a 2×4 mile chunk of dead coral that protrudes only 18 feet above the ocean. The cost of living is exorbitant and the competition for housing is fierce- for both people and plants. Many of our most common wildflowers aren’t much different than the humans in Key West- we both put a lot of effort into living in paradise.

de·his·cence

vegetable, vo•cab•u•lar•y

(n.) the spontaneous opening at maturity of a plant structure, such as a fruit, to release its contents

IMG_2417

I’ve always considered myself more of a bee than a squirrel – it’s the flower, not the fruit, that catches my eye. With this plant, however, everything BUT the flower shouts out for attention.