Happening Now: Planning for a Photo Retreat in Ireland and Scotland

Big Cypress National Preserve

In 2015, I was the Artist-in-Residence at Florida’s Big Cypress National Preserve, where I stayed at a government facility just steps from the fresh water swamp that feeds into the neighboring Everglades.

Despite the beauty of many plants and animals, a dark side can be unleashed when they are moved by human activity from their original environment.  Native plants and animals within the park’s 729,000 acres have fallen prey to imported visitors that have established themselves and become dominant.  The spread of non-native species is a global issue and is a problem with which Florida and the National Park Service has much experience.

The Burmese Python, for example, can reach 20 feet (6 meters) and weigh more than 200 pounds (90 kilograms).  They are now in Southern Florida after being released or escaping from pet owners and animal dealers.  The python has consumed at least 25 different species of birds.  Even alligators and deer have been swallowed whole.  Other beautiful killers include these non-native decorative plants:

Lantana, originating from Central and South America, is a shrub that grows up to 6 feet (2 meters) or more.  Forming dense thickets, they crowd out native plants.

Melaleuca was brought to Florida in the late 19th century as a garden plant and to drain swampy land.  The trees reach 100 feet (33 meters) in height and form dense thickets that displace native plants and diminish food for wildlife.

Brazilian pepper, also found in Argentina and Paraguay, is an ornamental evergreen shrub that grows to 43 feet tall (13 meters).  When crushed, the leaves smell like pepper or turpentine.  It shades out and displaces native vegetation and has already impacted some rare species.

Australian pine is an ornamental evergreen that grows up to 150 feet (46 meters) and usefully provides shelter from the wind.  But it rains down enough needles to form a smothering blanket.  In addition to Australia and New South Wales, it is native to Burma, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

All content on all pages of this website is © 2024 by Xiomaro. All rights reserved.

Any image or text or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever – including any and all uses in connection with artificial intelligence technology – without my express written permission. Violators will, and have been, prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Xiomaro logo by Azul Burger. Photos of Xiomaro by Barbara Cittadino.