Native collecting - Florida 2003 by Jay L  

(click on pictures)

Future plans on starting Tropica alike business in US, visiting Florida Aquatic Nurseries (FAN), visiting southern states as great locations for greenhouses and doing research on tissue culture for mass production of aquatic plants were few reasons why me and Ghazanfar Ghori decided to take a trip down to Florida in July 2003. Unfortunately due to busy work schedule and limited vacation time we were able to accomplish only few of above objectives.

On the way down we took our first quick stop at the local gas station in North Carolina and to our novice-to-collecting surprise we found Ludwigia glandulosa in local ditch. Although there was about 12" of extremely hot water (~90F) in the deepest spot, submerged growth was surprisingly very healthy.


Our next stop was at the border of Georgia/Florida at another gas station. In this small pond we found Hydrocotyle verticillata.
* Below Ghazanfar Ghori is filling bags with Hydrocotyle verticillata.


Micranthemum umbrosum was another frequent plant growing in multiple locations. We found it growing in "friendly" conditions as well as extremely "unhealthy/toxic" setting where was still thriving.
* Below I'm holding full bag of top quality Micranthemum umbrosum


Ludwigia repens, Bacopa caroliniana were THE WEEDS of Florida ditches. I was under the impression that Hygrophila polysperma was declared as noxious weed by Department of Agriculture but after seeing local spots I would recommend and advice officials to direct their attention towards Ludwigia repens.
* Below picture of me picking top quality Ludwigia repens and lower Ghazanfar Ghori
on the look out for new exotic plants.


Proserpinaca palustris in another spot.

Next place on our list was Ichetucknee Springs which people have to visit very early in the morning (thanks for tip Tom B.). One of the greatest natural experiences in Florida, tubing down the Ichetucknee River on a hot summer day thrills young and old alike. Ichetucknee Springs form the headwater of the river, and is joined by nine named springs discharging a total of 233 million gallons of water daily. The pristine wilderness along the banks make it one of the most enjoyable in Florida, and the surrounding State Park offers several wonderful hiking trails. Although the water was extremely cold, but at the same time amazingly clear, snorkeling in Ichetucknee was like a dream come true with fish, plants and other aquatic life.

(* I didn't have my camera inside the park so two pictures were linked from internet and used as reference. Credit goes to the owners)


We also visited Lower Suwannee - National Wildlife Refuge


Few pictures from local lakes with Ghazanfar trying to catch some native fish


The last place we visited was actually one of the most interesting stops and one which would definitely make us to go back to the same area in Florida. This was a local store, pointed out by Tom Barr, with unbelievable selection of Amano-like wood. We both acted like two kids in the playground, enjoying the selection of branches and wood pieces which most of them could have been used as focal points in our tanks. We made our selections, packed our bags and went home.


This was definitely an interesting trip. We drove through entire Florida west coast in search of plants, fish and wood. We were able to collect 14 different plant species, find some native fish and buy top quality wood. For those who wanted to go but couldn't, you guys missed a lot.
We now appreciate our local tap water, especially the smell of it. Although this wasn't my first trip down south, it was still interesting to communicate and interact with southern hospitality.

Special thanks to Tom Barr for tips.