Sinuous Southern Life

“That sinuous southern life, that oblique and slow and complicated old beauty, that warm thick air and blood warm sea, that place of mists and languor and fragrant richness….”  ― Anne Rivers Siddons, Colony

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Exploring a new trail is one of my favourite activities anywhere, and perhaps especially on Jekyll Island. The Tupelo Trail at Horton Pond — a pond with a newly installed observation deck on the shore, for the people, and a basking deck in the pond, for the alligators and turtles — was created since the last time I visited, so I had to check it out (twice) out on my latest trip in December. It’s only 0.7 miles long, but the vegetation and fungal life is varied. The trail has the only stand of black tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica, aka blackgum) on Jekyll; other uncommon plants are the water oak (Quercus nigra), pond pine (Pinus serotina, aka marsh pine), several varieties of blueberries (Vaccinium), several varieties of stinkhorn fungi.

So many interesting things, so much ambiance, “oblique and slow and complicated beauty,” a languor in the air that’s both drowsy and vaguely dangerous, prompting watchful, respectful wonder. The soil is humusy, with a scent of decay and mold, as death becomes life again. Signs of humans are everywhere — literally, in the signs labelling the plants — but there is a remote, primeval feeling to the place.

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sign near the observation deck, marking the start of the trail
sign near the observation deck, marking the start of the trail
information about the trail and about other habitats on the island
information about the trail and about other habitats on the island
trail mile marker sign
trail mile marker sign

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A few of the many trees and shrubs labelled:

LaurelOaksignTupeloTrailHortonPondJekyll23Dec2015 SlashPinesignTupeloTrailHortonPondJekyll23Dec2015 ShinyBlueberrysignTupeloTrailHortonPondJekyll23Dec2015

shiny blueberry (V. myrsinites)
shiny blueberry (V. myrsinites)

sparkleberrysignTupeloTrailHortonPondJekyll23Dec2015

sparkleberry (V. arboreum)
sparkleberry (V. arboreum)

resurrectionfernsignTupeloTrailHortonPondJekyll23Dec2015

resurrection fern (Pleopeltis polypodioide)
resurrection fern (Pleopeltis polypodioide)
more resurrection fern
more resurrection fern

fetterbushsignTupeloTrailHortonPondJekyll23Dec2015

Fetterbush (Lyonia lucida)
Fetterbush (Lyonia lucida)

deerberrysignTupeloTrailHortonPondJekyll23Dec2015

maybe deerberry (V. stamineum) ?
maybe deerberry (V. stamineum) ?

rustystaggerbushsignTupeloTrailHortonPondJekyll23Dec2015

Cryptothecia rubrocincta (Christmas Wreath) lichen on Rusty Staggerbush (Lyonia ferruginea)
Cryptothecia rubrocincta (Christmas Wreath) lichen on Rusty Staggerbush (Lyonia ferruginea)

sawpalmettosignTupeloTrailHortonPondJekyll23Dec2015

brown saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) foliage
brown saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) foliage

Signs without plants:

pondpinesignTupeloTrailHortonPondJekyll23Dec2015 rabbiteyeblueberrysignTupeloTrailHortonPondJekyll23Dec2015 blacktupelosignTupeloTrailHortonPondJekyll23Dec2015

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Some fun fungi:

Column stinkhorn (Clathrus columnatus) with brown slime
Column stinkhorn (Clathrus columnatus) with brown slime
another Column stinkhorn (Clathrus columnatus)
another Column stinkhorn (Clathrus columnatus)
yet another Column stinkhorn (Clathrus columnatus) with fly
yet another Column stinkhorn (Clathrus columnatus) with fly
Mutinus elegans stinkhorn mushroom
Mutinus elegans stinkhorn mushroom

(Yes, the stinkhorns really do stink; that’s the main way to find them. Some smell like bleach, others like something dead.)

two Russula sp. mushrooms
two Russula sp. mushrooms
small Russula sp. mushroom
small Russula sp. mushroom
Amanita sp. mushroom, yellowish with ring
Amanita sp. mushroom, yellowish with ring
mold on (probably Russula) mushroom
mold on (probably Russula) mushroom
maybe Stereum complicatum fungi on log
maybe Stereum complicatum fungi on log

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Assorted flora, fauna … also saw an osprey perched on a branch but didn’t get a good shot:

vines, leaves
vines, leaves
great egret
great egret
moss on saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) root across trail ... see the acorns and the little brown fungi?
moss on saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) root across trail … see the acorns and the little brown fungi?
mottled leaves
mottled leaves
palmetto inflorescence on red pine needles
palmetto inflorescence on red pine needles
turtles and alligator on basking deck
turtles and alligator on basking deck

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Trail shots …It really was an otherworldly walk.

trailpineneedlesbenchpalmettosTupeloTrailHortonPondJekyll23Dec2015 trailpineneedlespinepalmettossunlightTupeloTrailHortonPondJekyll23Dec2015 trailacornsoakleavespalmettosTupeloTrailHortonPondJekyll23Dec2015 trailpalmettosresurrectionfernTupeloTrailHortonPondJekyll23Dec2015 trailpineneedlespalmettoSpanishmossTupeloTrailHortonPondJekyll23Dec2015 trailpalmettosSpanishmossTupeloTrailHortonPondJekyll23Dec2015 trailsawpalmettosvinesTupeloTrailHortonPondJekyll23Dec2015 trailpinespineneedlesTupeloTrailHortonPondJekyll23Dec2015 pinespalmettoTupeloTrailHortonPondJekyll23Dec2015 trailpalmettopineneedlestreewithbubblegumlichenTupeloTrailHortonPondJekyll23Dec2015 trailarchedtreepineneedlesTupeloTrailHortonPondJekyll23Dec2015 pathpalmettosarchedtreesTupeloTrailJekyll29Dec2015 pathcurvepalmettosTupeloTrailJekyll29Dec2015 alongthetrailTupeloTrailJekyll29Dec2015 SpanishmosspalmettosTupeloTrailJekyll29Dec2015

view to observation deck from trail
view to observation deck from trail

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Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns. — Wendell Berry, Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

 

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