28 x 26 in | 71.1 x 66 cm
The first nature trip I took with my family after we moved to South Florida was to the Everglades National Park. We saw the famous “river of grass”, but there are many other plant communities in South Florida including “Pine Rocklands”. I had always associated Pine and rock with the North. Florida to me was the land of Palms and sand. To see Pines and Palms living together was interesting.
The Pine trunks surrounded by little palms looked like a happy group, like children dancing around a maypole. Later, when I read about the Pine Rocklands in one of my guidebooks, I discovered that my feelings were echoed in the ecology of this plant community. The Pines and Palmettos in fact form a true community in the sense that they help one another to survive under rather harsh conditions. They grow on almost bare coral rock, which dries out quickly. During the dry season periodic fires rage through these Pine Rocklands. Like the Ponderosa Pines of the West that grow in grasslands, these Slash Pines (Pinus elliottii) are spared because the palmettos do not provide enough fuel to make a high temperature fire. After the fire the palmettos grow new leaves. In areas where the Palmettos have been cleared out, large, bushy shrubs grow—the kind that can fuel a fire hot enough to kill the pines.
Slash Pines look like northern pines except that their needles are very long—up to a foot long. I’m going to have to do another painting to celebrate the graceful crown drooping with soft needles. In this painting I concentrated on the relationship between the trunks and the palmettos. Although the Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens) is the most common palm in the region there is at least one other species represented in my painting. A young Cabbage Palm (Sabal palmetto), identified by its characteristic arching frond, is in the middle of the painting at the back. All of these plants are fairly hardy and can be enjoyed throughout the southeastern U.S.