Explore Nature ...

Nature is everywhere … Enhance your understanding of the plants, insects, animals & complex interactions by reading about the ORCA & other natural areas.

Easter Holly?

Hollies, we expect, to have red berries at Christmas-time. Gallberry (Ilex glabra) is a holly that has black fruits. The fruits often persist throughout the winter and into spring. Ultimately, they are eaten by migratory birds. When we visited Osprey…

Great Southern White

As a few of us lingered at the end of our walk at Coastal Oaks Preserve, a somewhat tattered great southern white butterfly (Ascia monuste) was sipping nectar from two nearby native plants, oakleaf fleabane (Erigeron quercifoliius) … … and…

Pretty Pepperweed

Virginia pepperweed (Lepidium virginicum) was lush and lovely at the Coastal Oaks Preserve when we visited on 2/26/2022. Native from southern Canada through most of the U.S. to central America, this wildflower can be weedy elsewhere and in its native…

Lookout for Coralbean

Coralbean (Erythrina herbacea) is just beginning to flower on Orchid Island. Flowering tends to be later inland at places like the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area. Coralbean often grows in the midst of saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) and hammock plants, reaching…

Sabal Success

Established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903, Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge (PINWR) is the precedent setting first U.S. national wildlife refuge. Over the years it has has been expanded from its original size. Local citrus farmer and PINWR advocate…

Gorgeous gumbo limbo

Gumbo limbo (Bursera simarouba) are burly big trees, usually multi-trunked.  Only a few are found at the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area, youngish trees “seeded” by birds after the Christmas freeze of 1989 that brought bone-chilling temperatures well below freezing and…