The Jackson’s Chameleon is an African chameleon belonging to the family Chamaeleonidae. They are native to the humid, cooler regions of Kenya and Tanzania, East Africa, found in great numbers at altitudes over 9000 feet.
They are sometimes called Three-horned Chameleons because males possess three brown horns, one on the nose and one above each superior orbital ridge above the eyes, somewhat reminiscent of Triceratops. Their adult size is 12 inches in total length.
The subspecies xantholophus was introduced to Hawaii in the 1970s and has since established populations on all main islands. This population was the primary source of Jackson’s Chameleons for the exotic pet trade. However, the exportation of these animals has been made illegal to prevent opportunists from willfully establishing feral animal populations in order to capture and sell them.
Jackson’s chameleons live primarily on a diet of small insects. They are less territorial than most species of chameleons. Males will generally assert dominance over each other through color displays and posturing in an attempt to secure mating rights, but usually not to the point of physical fights.
The plant genus Tillandsia, a member of the Bromeliad family, is found in the deserts, forests and mountains of Central and South America, Mexico and the southern United States in North America. They display an incredible range of form and size, blooming in an impressive palette of extraordinary colors.
Tillandsia species are epiphytes, also called aerophytes or air plants. They normally grow without soil while attached to other plants. Epiphytes are not parasitic, depending on the host only for support. They nourish themselves totally, imbibing rain, dew and whatever nutrients are gathered from the air such as dust, decaying leaves and insect matter.
Although not normally cultivated for their flowers, some Tillandsia will bloom on a regular basis. In late fall-winter, the plants bloom with striking purple flowers. In addition, it is quite common for some species to take on a different leaf color, usually changing from green to red when about to flower.
Tillandsia is a primary ingredient in Allerplex, a standard process herbal supplement used to treat pollen allergies. The genus was named after the Swedish physician and botanist Dr. Elias Tillandz.
Lithops is a genus of succulent plants native to southern Africa. They avoid being eaten by blending in with surrounding rocks. They are often known as pebble plants or living stones. The plants consist of one or more pairs of bulbous, almost fused leaves opposite to each other, with hardly any stem. The slit between the leaves produces flowers and new leaves.
The leaves are not green as in almost all higher plants, but various shades of cream, grey, and brown, patterned with darker windowed areas, dots, and red lines. The markings on the top surface disguise the plant in its surroundings. During winter a new leaf pair, or occasionally more than one, grows inside the existing fused leaf pair. In spring the old leaf pair parts to reveal the new leaves and the old leaves will then dry up.
Yellow or white flowers emerge from the fissure between the leaves after the new leaf pair has fully matured, one per leaf pair. Some species have flowers large enough to obscure the leaves. They open in the afternoon and close in the evening. In tropical climates, Lithops can be grown primarily in winter with a long summer dormancy.
Lithops are popular novelty house plants and many specialist succulent growers maintain collections. Seeds and plants are widely available in shops and over the Internet. They are relatively easy to grow if given sufficient sun and a suitable well drained-soil.
Southern Cricket Frogs are very common tiny frogs of shallow water, puddles, ditches and pond margins. As large as crickets, they range from 0.5 to 1.5 inch long. Their calls are slightly reminiscent of a cricket, but more like two small rocks being clicked together. They are very loud at close range.
They have a dark triangle between the eyes and 1 or 2 longitudinal dark stripes on back of the thighs, borderd by light stripes. The Southern Cricket frog can be found in a large variety of colors such as black, green or red.
Their main diet consists of mosquitoes. These frogs will sit quietly and wait for their prey. When their prey is close by, their tongue will dart forward and catch it just like the stereotypical frog.
An impressive characteristic of the Southern Cricket Frog is their ability to jump long distances, sometimes as far as 8 feet with each jump. A quick walk along the water’s edge will usually flush cricket frogs from cover. Most will stop jumping after a series of erratic leaps.
The Belted Kingfisher is a stocky, medium-sized bird with a large head and a shaggy crest. Its long, heavy bill is black with a grey base. Both sexes have a slate blue head, large white collar, a large blue band on the breast, and white underparts.
It is often seen perched prominently on trees, posts, or other suitable watchpoints close to water before plunging in head first after fish. It also eat amphibians, small crustaceans, insects, small mammals and reptiles.
The Belted Kingfisher migrates from the northern parts of their range to the southern United States and Central America in winter. In warmer areas it is a permanent resident. It frequently announces its presence with a loud rattling cry.
The breeding distribution of the Belted Kingfisher is limited in some areas by the availability of suitable nesting sites. Human activity, such as road building and digging gravel pits, has created banks where kingfishers can nest and allowed the expansion of the breeding range.
Bauhinia purpurea is a species of flowering plant in the legume family native to Southeast Asia. Common names include Hong Kong Orchid Tree, Purple Camel’s Foot, and Hawaiian Orchid Tree.
It is an evergreen tree or vine with large thick leaves and striking purplish red flowers. The fragrant, orchid-like flowers are usually 3-5 inches across and bloom from early November to the end of March. The generic name commemorates the Bauhin brothers Jean and Gaspard, Swiss botanists. The two lobes of the leaf exemplify the two brothers.
Although now cultivated in many areas, it was discovered in 1880 near the ruins of a house on the shoreline of a western Hong Kong island near Pok Fu Lam. Apparently, all of the cultivated trees derive from one cultivated at the Hong Kong Botanic Gardens and widely planted in Hong Kong starting in 1914.
The Bauhinia double-lobed leaf is similar in shape to a heart or butterfly. A typical leaf is 7 inches wide, with a deep cleft dividing the apex. Local people call the leaf “clever leaf” and regard it as a symbol of cleverness. Some people use the leaves to make bookmarks in the hope that the bookmarks will bring them good luck in their studies.
Sea Purslane or Shoreline Seapurslane (Sesuvium portulacastrum) is a mat-forming, creeping seaside plant in coastal areas. It helps stabilize shorelines and dunes and is very useful for preventing erosion. It is native to the southeastern coastal US from North Carolina south through Florida, the Keys and throughout much of or all of the Caribbean.
It has thin, short, leathery leaves that are about 1″ long and thick, smooth stems of up to 3 feet. It also has attractive, small, somewhat inconspicuous white to purple or pinkish blooms. The tiny flowers are solitary in the leaf axils and bloom all year.
The leaves are edible, contain valuable vitamins and minerals, and have a crisp, salty taste. Medicinally this plant has been used to treat scurvy, a vitamin C deficiency and is sold in Asia as a vegetable. In the Caribbean, the leaves are pulverized and used to soothe puncture wounds caused by venomous fish.
Mexican Clover or Richardia grandiflora is a persistent groundcover that can make area lawns in southern Florida appear to be dusted with snow. The viney ground cover plant has flowers about 0.8 inch long and forms thick mats, spreading by seeds.
Although Mexican Clover is not in the clover family, the flower heads remind one of spent red clover seed heads. The flowers form in a terminal cluster from a four leaf bract. Each flower consists of six narrow lobes joined at the base to form a tube. The petals are white with shades of pink or lavender and are funnel-shaped.
The range is continuous from the Carribean through Mexico and Central America and it blooms in any month that lacks frost. It is grown as forage and a cover crop in the southern states, responds well to mowing, minimizes the need to irrigate and fertilize, spreads quickly and adds color.
Each flower typically produces three nutlets which function as a food source for small animals and insects. In addition, Mexican clover serves as a significant nectar source for butterflies and bees.
The Florida stone crab is a crab found in the western North Atlantic, from Connecticut to Belize, including Texas, the Gulf of Mexico, Cuba and the Bahamas. It is widely caught as a source of food.
It is brownish red with gray spots and a tan underside, and has large unequally-sized claws with black tips. The claws are hinged, very dark, and banded with red and yellow. It measures about 6.5 inches in length.
They make burrows in mud or sand below the low tide line, lying in wait for prey, prefering to feed on oysters and other small mollusks, polychaete worms, and other crustaceans. They will also occasionally eat seagrass.
The Florida stone crab is usually fished near jetties, oyster reefs or other rocky areas. The bodies are relatively small and are rarely eaten, but the claws are considered a delicacy.
The popularity of the Florida stone crab has grown again in recent years and is considered to be one of the best varieties to eat, as well as one of the more expensive.
Tragacanth is a natural gum obtained from the dried sap of several species of legumes of the genus Astragalus. Some of these species’ common names include Milk Vetch or Goat’s Thorn. The gum is sometimes called Shiraz Gum or Gum Dragon.
The sap is an odorless, tasteless, water-soluble mixture of polysaccharides obtained by draining from the root of the plant. It seeps from the plant in twisted ribbons or flakes which can be powdered. It absorbs water to become a gel, which can be stirred into a paste.
It is used in incense as a binder to hold powdered herbs together. It is also the traditional binder used in the making of artist’s pastels, as it does not adhere to itself the same way gum arabic does when dry. In addition, it is used to make a paste used in patisseries to create life-like flowers as decorations for cakes.
Tragacanth contains an alkaloid that has historically been used as an herbal remedy for such conditions as cough and diarrhea. As a mucilage or paste it has been used as a topical treatment for burns, as a cast to prohibit mobility for healing bones, and is used in pharmaceuticals and foods as an emulsifier, thickener, stabilizer, and texturant additive.
Gum tragacanth is less common in products than other gums, such as gum arabic or guar gum, largely because most Tragacanth is grown in Middle Eastern countries which have shaky trade relations. Commercial cultivation of tragacanth plants has generally not proved economically worthwhile in the west.