Ansin Tract Conservation Area Walk – Xeric scrub

Jane Schnee (Class of 2012) led a warm but wonderful walk on 8-5-2017 at the Ansin Tract Conservation Area for Tim Glover, John Warner (Class of 2012), Diane Morgan (Class of 2012), Linda & Sam Chancellor (Class of 2010), Cindy Hersh (Class of 2016), Bob Bruce (Class of 2012) and in the front row puppies Gorgeous Gwendolyn and Delta Dawn. Our walk began in the xeric scrub uplands and quickly progressed to the cooler and shadier wetlands along the Sebastian River.

Two scrub plants that we do not see at Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area stood out …

Scrub wild olive (Carterma floridanum) …

Pictured above is scrub wild olive, a rare Florida endemic with a range that is limited to central Florida. Abundant flowers and fruits, sometimes even on the same tree.

All of the fruits were unripe. They will ripen to blue-black and be about quarter-size sometime the fall.

Note the dramatically yellow midrib and glossy, stiff opposite leaves …

Deeberry (Vaccinium stamineum)

Also known as highbush huckleberry or squaw huckleberry, deerberry (Vaccinium stamineum) was the other unusual scrub plant that was pointed out by walk leader Jane Schnee whose hand is shown below …

Deer reportedly eat the ripe fruit, leading to the common name of deerberry. Though the fruit look yummy, they reportedly are quite sour. Humans enjoy them only if well-sweetened. This plant ranges from Maine to southern Ontario to Kansas south to Florida and Texas.

Piedmont blacksenna (Seymeria pectinata) …

This year Piedmont blacksenna (Seymeria pectinata) has been abundant along the south ORCA scrub trail, and we saw it in a dry area on the banks of the Sebastian River …

Thanks to Tim Glover for pointing out the trail where we saw this root parasite and to Cindy Hersh for pointing out a red-shouldered hawk that had landed near the parking lot and then flew to a longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) …