Today’s tree is not one used often for landscaping but is one of the world’s rarest and oldest tree species known and that actually is found in a small part of Florida. Over the Thanksgiving holiday, my wife and I visited Torreya State Park in Bristol, Florida (about 45 minutes west of Tallahassee) which is home of the Torreya tree (Torreya taxifolia).
Here’s some interesting facts about the Torreya tree:
-- The Torreya tree grows among the bluffs and ravines of Gadsden and Liberty Counties, Florida.
-- The Florida Torreya (Torreya taxifolia) was discovered around 1835 by Hardy Bryan Croom, an early botanist.
-- Early settlers called the Torreya the "stinking cedar" because of the strong odor it gave when cut or bruised. Despite its smell, however, they used it for a wide variety of purposes ranging from fence posts and shingles to Christmas trees and riverboat fuel. -- It is estimated there were 600,000 Torreya trees living in the Apalachicola River Valley during the early 1800s. Only around 200 survive today. -- Modern scientists report that the Torreya once lived across North America and is one of the oldest known tree species on earth.
-- A local legend says that the Florida Torreya was the Biblical "gopher wood" from which Noah built the ark.
-- Because the Torreya is one of America's most endangered trees, a major effort is underway to save it. The Florida Park Service is working with the Atlanta Botanical Garden in a commendable effort to grow new Torreya trees.
-- Florida Torreya is a cone shaped evergreen tree that potentially reaches 50 ft (15 m) in height.
-- Florida yew (Taxus floridanum) and Florida Torreya have almost identical distributions along the east side of the Apalachicola River, and are quite similar in appearance. Florida Torreya has sharp, stiff needles, whereas Florida yew has soft, flexible needles; the Torreya has whorled branching whereas the Yew has irregular branching; and Torreya foliage smells like tomato leaves, whereas Florida Yew foliage smells more like turpentine.
-- Florida torreya is a highly Endangered Species, and is clearly going extinct in the wild where, since the 1950's, it has been attacked by a fungus disease.
-- At Torreya State Park in Florida, the namesake tree has been reduced to pitiful sprouts that reach 3-6 ft (1-2 m) in height, then die back to the ground, sometimes resprouting from the roots, only to die back again.
-- The Torreya tree often thrives when planted further north than its natural range. Fine specimens can be seen at Biltmore Gardens in Asheville, North Carolina. The National Champion Florida Torreya is growing in Norlina, North Carolina and is some 45 ft (13.5 m) tall, with a 40 foot (12 m) spread.
Now here are pictures of the one of the existing Torreya trees and the State Park –
Torreya Tree outside of Gregory House at Torreya State Park
Gregory House at Torreya State Park
View of Apalachicola River off bluff near Gregory House.
True to his Texas heritage, the late 'Dallas' actor lived in an egregiously large home. The catch? The home of television's most hated oil baron was completely powered by the sun.
Tue, Nov 27 2012
Late last week, the American solar energy industry lost one of its most outspoken — and highly ironic — celebrity boosters in the form of Larry Hagman. In the end, it was complications following throat cancer, not double gunshot wounds inflicted by his disgruntled sister-in-law/mistress, that claimed the life of the veteran actor who played the most loathsome Texas patriarch to ever appear on television. Hagman, a recovered alcoholic and liver transplant recipient, was 81.
Off-screen, Hagman was strictly a renewable energy kind of guy who milked his despicable, black gold-hungry on-screen persona for all it was worth. Case in point: the motto of Hagman’s recently formed charitable foundation is “Evil Does Good.”
Much has been written about Hagman’s non-evil solar energy-pushing activities over the years with the bulk of it focused on “Heaven,” his absolutely ginormous off-the-grid ranch in Ojai, Calif., that reportedly sports the largest residential solar array in the United States.
Hagman appeared, donning his signature 10-gallon hat and with his tongue firmly planted in cheek, in the an SolarWorld ad campaign on the condition that SolarWorld donate photovoltaic panels to the Haiti relief effort following that country’s catastrophic earthquake (Hagman also served on the board of the Solar Electric Light Fund, a nonprofit with the goal of bringing clean, renewable energy to developing areas).
I'll leave you with these words from Hagman himself as found on his official website:
Now, not everyone can put in the gonzo array I did; however, we can all learn from the mistakes of the past and make positive differences right now and for the future. Compact florescent light bulbs in our homes and businesses make a tremendous difference in the amount of energy we all use. Less energy used equals less pollution generated. Learning more about the foods we eat and the fuels we use to power our economy will lead to better health, economically and physically. You’ll love that feeling you get from driving an electric car. We have the power to make changes every day.The only things any of us truly have in this world are the decisions we make. Take some advice from me live a life you love and love the life you live. Become knowledgeable about what changes you can make in your daily lives. Our time is short to make these changes, but I’m heartened by the increased interest these last few years have brought.
Manatee season officially begins in South Florida on Nov. 15, as boating restrictions take effect to protect the slow-moving marine mammals from being killed or injured by watercraft.
Manatees, which can't tolerate water below 68 degrees, swim south in the winter, congregating at warm springs and artificial refuges created in the discharge zones of power plants. Among the most popular, with several hundred manatees assembling at one time, are the power plants at Port Everglades, Riviera Beach and Fort Lauderdale, west of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
Watercraft are the single biggest killer of the endangered marine mammals, with 73 dead so far this year. This year, three have been killed so far by watercraft in Broward County, one in Miami-Dade County and one in Palm Beach County. Last year the totals were two in Broward, two in Miami-Dade and three in Palm Beach.
Although some boat speed zones are in effect year-round, other are seasonal, running from Nov. 15 until March 31, when most manatees will have headed north where food is more abundant.
The holidays are upon us and if you are buying toys for younger children you might want to check out Green Toys. I have never bought from them but their green policies seem very sound. http://www.greentoys.com/
Made in California, USA: Less Transportation, Less Energy All Green Toys products are 100% made in the USA. To be more specific, they are produced in California, a state known for strict toy safety and environmental laws. It's cool to buy USA, but also think about this: transportation is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gasses. We all know driving less is good for Mother Nature, but did you ever think about how many miles a toy logs before it ends up in your local store?
Our toys are truly local creations. Every step in the process, from milk container recycling to toy production to final assembly, occurs in California. Our raw materials and toys aren't shipped from overseas, which saves a lot of energy and reduces greenhouse gasses. It also guarantees your toys won't get seasick before they get to your home!
Environmental Packaging Green Toys environmental mission even extends to our packaging. We strive to minimize packaging, and all of our boxes use as little material as possible. All Green Toys products are packaged in recycled corrugated boxes with no plastics, cellophane or twist-ties, and are 100% recyclable. So, not only are they earth-friendly and ready for your recycling bin, they are really easy to open for those little fingers just itching to get at the toys!!
Not Every "Environmentally-Friendly" toy is a Green Toy™
Green Toys™ products are unique in the toy industry. Our raw material, packaging, supply chain and fulfillment are all located in the same US state, reducing transportation and therefore greenhouse gas emissions, as well as saves energy. Green Toys™ products are the only toys on the market made from 100% recycled post-consumer recycled materials, and our products are the only ones on the market packaged exclusively in 100% recyclable cardboard, with no twist ties or plastics that must be discarded into landfills.
Someone asked a very good question – Why is the common name Floss-Silk Tree when nothing about it (especially the trunk) looks “silky and smooth.” Here’s what I found out from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceiba_speciosa :
Fruits of the Floss-Silk Tree
The fruits are lignous ovoid pods, 20 centimetres (8 in) long, which contain bean-sized black seeds surrounded by a mass of fibrous, fluffy matter reminiscent of cotton or silk.
The cotton inside the fruit pods, although not of as good quality as that of the kapok tree, has been used as stuffing f(density = 0.27 g/cm³), soft and flexible, and is employed in packaging, to make canoes, as wood pulp to make paper, and in ropes. From the seeds it is possible to obtain vegetable oil (both edible and industrially useful).
It’s back -- Tree Thursday! And today we’re looking at some fall color in Fort Lauderdale…
Ceiba speciosa, formerly known as Chorisia speciosa
Driving up Bayview Drive last week, I spotted a Floss-Silk tree in full bloom and thought that would be a great tree for Tree Thursday. There were also a few blooming on the west side of the Oakland Park Intracoastal Bridge. The first thing that I realized as I started looking up information on the Chorisia speciosa was that the scientific name had been changed to Ceiba speciosa. Looking a little further I found out that the genus Chorisia had been incorporated into the genus Ceiba. Anyway…
Floss-Silk (or Silk Floss) tree is an awkwardly branched 30-60 foot tree with pale green leaves palmately divided into 5-7 pointed leaflets. The most spectacular feature of the tree, besides the flowers, is the bulbous green trunk that is covered with big blunt warty triangular spines. The trunk turns gray as the tree gets older. Floss-Silk trees typically drop their leaves just before they put on their spectacular autumn display of five-petaled flowers. The petals vary from pale pink to rose to purple or burgundy at the tips.
Floss-Silk tree is native to Brazil and Argentina, but it is cultivated in many tropical areas. It also grows well in parts of southern California.
America Recycles Day Celebrates Environmental Stewardship
Kids (and adults) … Learn about Recycling by Participating in an Event Near You! The City of Fort Lauderdale is working with the Museum of Discovery and Science on America Recycles Day events.
STAMFORD, Conn. (Nov. 2, 2011) — Recycling can be easy – and fun – for everyone in the family. With Americans pledging to increase their recycling habits at home and at work for Keep America Beautiful’s 2011 America Recycles Day (ARD), which takes place on November 15, there’s no better time for kids to get involved and become good environmental stewards by learning more about recycling. Here are 10 tips and activities kids (and adults!) can do as America Recycles Day approaches.
Take a trashy trip. Visit your local landfill, recycling center or transfer station with your parents, school, or group. Get to know what’s recyclable in your community and what happens to your trash after the garbage truck takes it away. Ask lots of questions. Recycling is different in different places, so knowing your local rules is an important first step. It might be a little smelly, but it’s worth it!
Don’t be a litterbug. We all make trash everyday. Make sure that your recyclable trash always goes in the proper place – a recycling receptacle, of course! Dropping trash on the ground is littering, and it doesn’t just make a place look ugly. It hurts the environment by polluting the land and water, and that affects all of us, including animals that can mistake litter for food or get tangled up in trash. Stopping litter is easy – it begins with you.
Reuse. It’s like recycling, only better. So, what do you do with a can or bottle or book or ANYTHING when you’re finished with it? The absolute best thing you can do is to reuse things so that they stay out of the trash. Things like drink bottles and grocery bags can be refilled. Books and magazines can be reused as art projects or gift wrapping. Old toys or electronics can be donated to a charity that will give them to someone else. Be creative – the only limit is your imagination!
Know your numbers. Look closely for the recycling symbol (three arrows going in a circle) on plastic bottles, packages or containers. Plastic items that have a number “1” or “2” in the middle of the symbol are the easiest to recycle, and should be accepted by almost every recycler. Some communities require that your plastic bottles have a “neck,” so know your local rules. Learn more at earth911.com.
Can it! Metals are among the most valuable materials for recycling. Aluminum and steel cans are always welcomed by recyclers, and most metals can be recycled infinitely (that means over and over again, forever) with no loss of quality.
Look beyond the daily paper. Paper and cardboard are America’s most-recycled materials, and between the classroom and homework, kids use a lot of paper! In addition to newspaper recycling, most communities will accept cardboard (especially the corrugated or “wavy in the middle” kind), magazines, direct mail, catalogs, and phone books. But hold on to your comic books and baseball cards. They might be worth something someday!
Make recycling easy on the road. Ask you parents to keep two bags in your car or truck to contain your family’s trash - one bag for garbage, and one for recyclables. Pre-sorting on the road makes it easier to move your recyclables to the proper containers once you get to where you’re going.
Improve your neighborhood with a cleanup event. Clean neighborhoods are better places for everyone to live, work, shop and play. Join or organize a local cleanup event, and be sure to sort the recyclables you pick up. You’ll be amazed at what a difference a little effort can make.
Teach your parents well. Let’s face it, Mom and Dad might have learned about recycling way back in the 1990s. Things have changed a lot since then! Keep your family updated on what you learn about recycling, waste and trash. Talk with them about climate change. Parents can learn a lot from kids, so be sure to set a good example for them.
Tell the world what you think. Have something to say? Make a poster about litter or recycling, or make a video about trash. Write a letter to your local newspaper about an environmental issue that you care about. Hey, you can’t protect the planet all by yourself. “Getting the word out” shows that you care, and can get other people to think about what’s important to kids. Speak up!
Get this out to friends of yours that may have ran for office.
Political signs pose recycling challenge
By Jake Thomas, Resource Recycling
The polls have closed, the pundits are silent (sort of) and the ballots have been counted. But one question remains: What to do with all those political yard signs?
All across the country, people are taking down signs expressing their support for candidates and causes. And in some parts of the country, efforts are under way to collect and recycle these signs, which are often made from difficult-to-recycle materials.
Political signs are typically made from materials that make them durable and able to withstand being left outdoors for the marathon election season, such as corrugated plastic or plastic film. While these materials might make signs more weatherproof, they also make them less recyclable. However, this isn't deterring local organizations from keeping them out of landfills.
"I'm finding that, yes, [local organizations] are recycling them, but you have to take them to a collection center," said Brenda Pulley, senior vice president for recycling at Keep America Beautiful, of the newly-irrelevant signs.
In Oregon's mid-Willamette Valley, Allied Waste/Republic Services will be holding collection events in Albany and Corvallis on Nov. 15, America Recycles Day, to allow residents to recycle their signs.
"What we're trying to accomplish is to let people know that most of the plastics included in the signs should not be co-mingled [in curbside recycling]," said Emily Phillips, recycling coordinator at Allied Waste/Republic Services.
According to Phillips, many of the signs in her area are made from either a corrugated plastic or a thin film held together with a recyclable metal frame. She said that her company will have volunteers on hand at the event to separate the materials. The collected plastics will be sent to Agri-Plas, Inc., a company in Brooks, Oregon that specializes in recovering agricultural plastics, where they will be processed into crude oil, she said.
Phillips said that some candidates are collecting and saving their signs for reuse during the next election cycle, which she said is great option for keeping them out of landfills.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said that with the predicted "big influx" of swine flu cases, it's important to be cognizant of the little things that can make a big difference when it comes to protecting your health, and those around you. Cough or sneeze into your sleeve instead of your hand to avoid hand-shake germ spreading. Wash your hands regularly. Use antibacterial hand sanitizers to kill germs dead in an instant. Or wait... No access to a sanitizing wipe? No problem. Instead of turning to chemically-infused pocket cleansers that pollute your body and the environment, Mother Nature has lots of naturally purifying agents that are easy to get your dirty hands on.
7 natural antibacterials to keep you and the planet healthy
2. VMV Hypoallergenics Kid Gloves Monolaurin Hand Sanitizer , chooses antiseptics derived from coconut oil (cocos nucifera) to do the dirty work. It's been shown that coconut oil can have antiviral and antibacterial effects. In fact, Dr. Vermén M. Verallo-Rowell, says that Monolaurin, a derivative from Coconut Oil, when used on the hands "will help protect, moisturize and prevent the spread of viruses." Oh, and it's 100% fragrance, paraben and preservative-free.
3. CleanWellhand sanitizing spritz kills 99.99% of germs away... naturally. Created from nature-made botanical oils, CleanWell keeps your family safe, healthy and clean. Plus, only rapidly renewable botanicals are used, making them a sustainable alternative.
4. Wasabi— Yup, it's great on sushi. But it also has antibacterial/antimicrobial properties, and with a high concentration of potassium, calcium, vitamin C and phytochemicals, it helps strengthen the body's defenses.
5. Lemon— Like grapefruit and other citrus fruits, squeeze fresh lemon on your hands and it acts like a natural sanitizer. It has the ability to perform both internally and externally against many bacterial and fungal infections by killing germs when directly touched and stimulating the immune system.
6. Garlic— is jam packed with antioxidants and immune boosting nutrients that go after invaders when ingested, defeating bacterial, viral and even fungal infections. Fueled with three infection-fighting powerhouses: allicin, ajoene, and thiosulfinates, raw garlic is believed to be almost as effective as Neosporin. Drink the juice (or just eat the fresh or pressed cloves) for its immune boosting effects or rub it on your skin to fight fungus.
7. Carrots— Carrots contain loads of beta carotene, a powerpacked phytonutrient known to bolster the immune system by increasing the production of infection-fighting T cells. "What's up Doc?" Not anymore.
Keep Your Car- These days the temptation to buy a hybrid or electric vehicle is great. However, if you are driving an older model car that is in good condition, you might be better off sticking with that. Even hybrids have a footprint, so before you go spend money on a new car, with its own footprint, consider driving the car you own for a little while longer. Also, try incorporating other more eco-friendly modes of transportation when possible.
It won’t be long before a lot of us will be out there gift shopping, so here’s some advice on making your driving a little greener.
Go to the Right!
Reduce the miles you drive – map out your routes, plan your trips, and combine errands. Every time you get ready to go somewhere in your car, think about the best way to get there, other things you can do either on the way or while you are where you are going, and check to see if anyone else is going there and you can carpool.
UPS advocates making as few left-hand turns as possible - they claim they have saved a lot of gas, time and money by have their drivers mostly make right turns - less idling.