Oyster Creek Preserve - Englewood - 10-6-2019
October 8, 2019
By: Andy Firk

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REPORT FROM THE ROAD – OYSTER CREEK PRESERVE – ENGLEWOOD: On Sunday, October 6, my friend Michelle and I explored the entire main trail of Oyster Creek Preserve in Englewood. This free-to-park preserve is interesting in the fact that there are both brackish coastal plants as well as pinewoods plants. There is even a scrubby area with Reindeer and Deerfoot mosses. Although I am familiar with the park directly across the street from this one, this was my first time exploring this park and I took a plant inventory of over 110 plants to turn into a checklist for upcoming walks. Al Squires of the Mangrove Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society will be leading a walk here on October 26 that I might attend. I must say, this sure is one sweet wild place. I hope to return many times and take along plant-loving friends to lead them on plant walks.
ANIMALS: A healthy Bald Eagle soared low and fast overhead and schools of mullet swam about in the shallows. I’ll bring my cast net and cooler the next time to take some for dinner and to make spread. Osprey, Blue Crab, and Pencil Fish where also seen, among others.
PLANTS OF THIS PARK: Many of these trails are lined with large Slash Pines, creating some nice shade for these hot sunny days of October.
Some of the common plants at this park to take notice of along the way include Sensitive Pea, Fetterbush, Coinvine, Southern Bayberry, Rabbitbells and Coastplain Palafox. Black and White Mangroves live here but it is the Reds that are the ones that thickly line the creek by the thousands.
Some of the less common plants here that must be sought out in localized spots include Red Bay, Dahoon Holly, Florida Paintbrush, Herb-of-Grace, Seagrape, and Tallowwood Plum.
There were two unknown-to-me small-flowered Pea Family plants, Fabaceae, that I have seen before in the wild but have not yet botanically keyed-out, but I will soon. I love finding wild plants that are unknown to me!
EDIBLE WILD MUSHROOMS: On the edible mycological side, this past month has been exceptionally dry in these parts, so many mushrooms lie dormant now. In years past, when early autumns are wet, there can be bountiful edible mushroom harvests, but not this year. That said, there were some Pepper Milkies, Lactarius piperatus, fruiting near saw palmettos in a low damp spot. Being so “peppery,” their edibility is debated. Among my fungi-familiar friends they are a stomach irritant to some or a dried hot spice to others. One friend par-boils them and eats them after fermentation. I have dried and powdered them and have no problem with them so far when used sparingly as a sprinkle, much like cayenne powder. Do you own research as I make no claims that this species is safe for you. This summer, I finally got my wild edible mushroom game together (it took me long enough, geesh!) and I bagged about fifty pounds in all of edible wild mushroom delicacies! My baskets were mostly full of various milkies, Lactarius and Lactifluus species, but also often included various chanterelles. There were some very nice fruitings of Seagrape Chanterelles growing beneath Seagrape trees near the ocean this summer. I look forward to the mass fruitings of Ringless Honey Mushrooms of autumn, which are reliably consistent and abundant in these parts come November or December. November is also the month that edible Southern Chicken-of-the-Woods fruit from a very limited number of Live Oaks that I have mapped out. This species of “Chicken” may upset your stomach, so as with all wild mushrooms being consumed for the first time, eat just a small amount to see how they make you feel. Never consume any mushroom that you have not identified 100%. Spend time out in the wild with mushroom experts such as Mycol Stevens, Jon Martin, Sarah Prentice, or others here in Florida.
This is location #1319 visited across Florida for me. (The actual number is higher).
Check the “EVENTS” section on my website, floridaforaging (dot) com, now and then. That way, you can keep up-to-date on not only my events but many others that relate to wild and cultivated edible plants, mushrooms, seaweeds, and lichens. Love ya!
PHOTO: A less common orange-fruited Dahoon Holly, Ilex cassine. This was one large tree for sure standing about twenty feet tall with a one-foot diameter trunk.