Lucky Nut?

I came across this Lucky Nut, Thevetia peruviana, while touring the holiday light display at the Florida Botanical Gardens earlier this week. While I was certainly intrigued by the large nut’s unique shape, I could find no information about what makes it lucky.

In fact, to use a quote from my all-time favorite movie, The Princess Bride, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” To the best of my knowledge, every part of this oleander relative is completely unlucky since it is toxic.

Moonflower

Moonflower (Ipomoea alba) is a unique member of the morning glory family in that it blooms at night. The white flowers are about 5 inches across and they almost seem to glow in the moonlight. That large size combined with their appealing aroma helps attract nocturnal pollinators.

Native to Florida the vine also sports showy, heart-shaped leaves. I’d love to have one in my yard but I don’t have anywhere for it to grow, they need support and can reach 40′ in length. The flower I photographed was on a vine that was at least that long since it had grown up and over a telephone pole. What a beaut!

Sea Grapes

Discovered this chunk of green alga on my beach a couple weeks back. Its diminutive size and odd shapes warranted a photo, if only so I could identify it. That process took longer than it should have but, as usual, I learned something new.

Meet the Sea Grape (Caulerpa racemosa), an edible seaweed that favors shallow seas around the world. In some areas it is considered invasive, though this is the first time I’ve encountered it around here.

Since they are nutrient rich I suppose we should all eat up!

Jingled All the Way

Last night I joined my friends Peggy and Katie (and her dog Reef) for the Jingle Bell Run in downtown St. Pete. The 5k, a fundraiser for veterans causes, is now in its 39th year and these folks know how to put on an event!

They encouraged fun outfits, handed out jingle bell bracelets and glow necklaces, surprised us with snow (fake, of course), and had live bands scattered along the route to keep our spirits bright. The city’s colorful holiday decorations added to the overall cheer.

I admit, my feet were a bit sore by the end (having also walked a few miles earlier that day with my friend Amber), but it was a wonderful way to spend the evening. Jingle on!

A Moveable Feast

While we were wandering Perico Preserve last weekend, the tide changed. As the water started flowing back into the bay, the fish began to feed. In this video there are several species of fingerlings nibbling on an algae ball as it is rolled along by the current. Sorry about the noise, low-flying aircraft.

The mullet in the video below emerged from the deeper part of the bay and crammed into the shallow, narrow neck of this inlet. Talk about an easy meal, all they had to do was open their mouths and the nutrient rich water flowed in!