If you ever have had the pleasure to take a cruise ship to the Bahamas, there is a good chance you had to travel to Florida to board the ship for your adventure. And when in Florida you had to notice the abundance of Palm trees that lined the avenues and neighborhoods.
Believe it or not, even though they may look alike they are not. There are over 2,500 species of palm trees all over the world and most of them are in one part or another of the United States. Many of them are located in the Southeastern and Southwestern United States in Florida and California.
One of the most common varieties in Florida is called the Cabbage Palm or Palmetto. This particular palm tree is a flexible and hardy plant that thrives on sunlight. It sucks nutrients out of the poorest soil and can even endure the occasional cold weather. It is native to North America.
These palms range from 30 to 40 feet tall although if left to grow in the wild can reach heights of 80 feet. They can spread from 10 to 15 feet so leave room for growth if you plan on planting one. It is susceptible to disease like the giant palm weevil, the cabbage palm caterpillar and keep your eyes open for butt rot (ganoderma).
In the summer the palm bears small white flowers clusters held by 2ft long branches and produces a small black fruit which is edible.
Even though they are prevalent in Florida this particular palm can be found in many other states such as Southern Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Nevada, California, Oregon and even Washington.
This large, beautiful bird can be found in many areas of the United States on either coast and is very distinct looking while both standing and flying. It can adapt to almost any wetland habitat and will be found in both fresh and saltwater marshes, swamps, flooded meadows and lake edges.
Its primary diet is fish and, if you are lucky, you can watch them catch their meal while stealthily parading around in the water. Unlike the American Eagle that spots their dinner from high above, the Blue Heron patiently waits for dinner to swim by his long legs then grabs it before it has a chance to escape.
These large birds find their prey with their eyes and usually swallow it whole. The type of meal depends on where they hunt and the abundance of supply. They are not limited to a special fish but also feed on shrimp, reptiles, small mammals, and other birds. Even though most of their hunting is done in the water they also look for mice in fields. Most of their activity is early dawn or dusk.
The great blue herons usually stay around the bodies of water nesting in trees or bushes near the water’s edge although occasionally can be see flying over upland areas. With a wingspan of between six and seven feet, their flight is very conspicuous and hard to miss.
A word of warning to those who have or are thinking about building a fish pond on their property – take precautions or you may someday find one of these beautiful creatures having a buffet at your expense.