Ansin Tract Conservation Area – Blackwater

The Ansin Tract Conservation Area, where we enjoyed a group walk on 8/5/2017, is a marvelous mix of habitats including xeric scrub and freshwater wetlands. Following the trail at the kiosk toward the east leads to the beautiful blackwater stream, pictured above, that is part of the headwaters of the St. Sebastian River. We also walked the trail that goes south from the Canoe Launch but could not go far due to high water.

There water hickory (Carya aquatica) was the dominant canopy tree with its distinctive compound, toothed leaves …

The water hickories nearest to the water had massive, buttressed trunks — so butressed that they were mistaken for bald cypress (Taxodium distichum).

Red maple (Acer rubrum), which is founding growing at the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area (ORCA) In the sometimes flooded low areas near the Vero South Square Shopping Area, also were part of the canopy.

Southern needleleaf (Tillandsia seatacea), an epiphytic plant also found at ORCA, festooned the bald cypress in a variety of sizes …

In the shade of these tall trees along the banks grew southern shield fern (Thelypteris dentata) , which also grows at ORCA along the hammock loop trail …

The water-loving string-lily or seven sisters (Crinum americanum) does not grow at ORCA and was flowering …

Common along the St. Sebastian River, this lovely member of the amaryllis family (Amaryllidaceae) is also know as swamp lily, southern swamp lily, crinum lily, and American crinum lily. Its strap-like leaves are about 3″ wide and, depending on light conditions, can be 1 – 4′ long. You will find this plant in freshwater swaps, marshes, and wet hamoocks. Its fragrant flowers have 6 white petals, and the upper half of the stamen and the anthers are purple. It mostly blooms from June through November.

Sad to say that the invasive pest plant twoleaf nightshade (Solanum diphyllum) was prolific and both flowering and fruiting …

This invasive pest plant thrives in the shady moist conditions along the St. Sebastian River and is not uncommon along the trails at ORCA. Once it gets woody, it is very difficult to pull up, as demonstrated by John Warner (Class of 2012) …

The Ansin Tract Conservation Area is a great place to visit to see a variety of habitats in a short  walk — as is the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area.