Tuesday, March 8, 2011

American Snowbell

 We saw this small flowering tree yesterday while walking with a group on the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge's River Trail. The plant was abundant and flowering profusely on relatively dry sites along the swamp trail as it proceeds from the trailhead toward the Suwannee River. Checking our field guides, we soon were able to identify it as American Snowbell (Styrax americanus).

 An informal group of volunteers within the Friends of the Lower Suwannee and Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuges recently placed signs along the trail identifying many of the diverse kinds of trees there. The list is growing as additional species are identified and markers placed. American Snowbell will surely be a future addition.

The exercise of placing signs of educational value to hikers leads to questions about the kinds of information that should be provided to best add value to the experiences along the paddling trails. Placing signs along them would be impractical and perhaps undesirable. Figuratively and literally, paddlers seem more likely to be seeing the forest than the trees. Conveying the sense of the forest (or marsh) with both scientific and aesthetic integrity will be a considerable but not unwelcome challenge.

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