Saturday, April 23, 2016

Everglades Backcountry Tour Is an Inspiration

Backcountry Boat tour beginning at Flamingo in the Everglades
I am winding up my time here in the Florida Keys and I want to share a recent trip to Everglades National Park and Everglades lakes.  They are two of Florida’s natural treasures that attract visitors from all over the world.  Visitors come to see wilderness of islands, sawgrass, mangroves, forests, waterways and open water.  What captured my imagination is the fact that what you see is little different than when dugout travelers fished the waters and set up villages and camps on the islands centuries ago.  This year we took a backcounty boat tour of the Everglades beginning at Flamingo Visitor Center.  It was a very hot and humid day so a boat ride was perfect especially since we were sprayed with cool and refreshing water in places.

One of the larger crocodiles spotted
This trip gave us an opportunity to see crocodiles.  Most were baby crocs and they were difficult to spot because their gray color blends into the habitat so well.  


We also saw 3 types of mangroves which are tropical plants found along much of the world’s tropical coasts. They grow in loose, wet soils, salt water, and are periodically submerged by tidal flows. Florida has 3 of the 50 species of mangroves found throughout the world--Red, Black, and White.
Manchineel tree or Little Apple of Death
Fortunately, my education here included learning about the Manchineel tree. This is an important tree to know about.  It is native to the Western Hemisphere and is known as the most poisonous tree in the world. In places where it grows – Florida, the Caribbean and the Bahamas – the manchineel is often marked with a red band to warn passersby not to get too near it.  The one that we saw in the Everglades was unmarked and I made a mental note to try to remember what it looks like.

The tree is poisonous on so many levels that if you ever spot one, it is better you stay at least a few yards away from it. Its fruit resembles a small apple, but eating one could land you right in the emergency room. It was supposedly named ‘manzanita de la muerte’ (little apple of death) by Christopher Columbus. But it might just be the least dangerous part of the tree.

The manchineel’s milky white sap is incredibly caustic and poisonous as well.  Just a drop could cause skin blisters, dermatitis, swelling or burns. This happens a lot with unsuspecting travelers who use the tree for shelter from the rains. The sap is so caustic that even the rain drops coming from the branches can cause burns. The bark is poisonous too.   Burning it releases a smoke that causes temporary and in some cases, permanent blindness. 

Coot Bay
I enjoyed seeing the beauty of Coot Bay which is a gorgeous stretch of water in a remote area.  It is almost just like it would have been back in 1513 when Ponce de Leon explored portions of the Florida peninsula.  

While I am in Florida. I make a lot of my jewelry for the Delaware by Hand Members' Memorial Day Show  on May 28, 2016, in Lewes, Delaware.  My adventures in Florida serve to inspire my jewelry. Here are 2 pairs of starfish earrings that were inspired by the Everglades trip.

Turquoise starfish earrings by BayMoonDesign

The turquoise waters outside the Flamingo visitor's center inspired these casual earrings.  These turquoise starfish earrings are made with polymer clay starfish charms by Humblebeads. I added cream colored ceramic bead with faux sand to these seashell earrings. 
White Starfish Earring by BayMoonDesign

The crushed coral along the shoreline has lots of off whites, beiges, and tans. These white starfish earrings are made with another pair of polymer clay starfish charms by Humblebeads. The starfish have neutral colors of white and tan. I added cream colored vintage pearls to these neutral earrings. 

I am lucky to have such beauty around me.  


  1. Sounds like an awesome trip. -And beautiful earrings btw ;)

  2. Love the inspiration of the Everglades! I like the faux sand!

  3. I didn't know about the Little Apple of Death, I didn't even suspect there were deadly plants on so many levels! It's interesting how nature in one and the same area has inspired two different color schemes. The turquoise is eye catching but the serenity of the white and beige pair is also impressive.