Are there Moles in Florida?

“Are there moles here?” I once asked as a child visiting my Grandma in Florida. My Grandpa over heard us and immediately saw a teachable moment. He offered to show me a real mole. What kid could resist? Out we went to the backyard with shovels and visions of cute beaver-toothed hamsters in my head. As soon as we got out there a couple of other-people’s Grandpas came over to help with the search and some tentative digging ensued. Confused, I dug in and chunked out a huge shovelful. I examined the spadeful of soil for big game. Another chunk out of the grass. And another. “Not so deep!” the Grandpas exclaimed in unison. I was deeply confused. I was going for a six inch long animal about the size of a slicked down chipmunk-squirrel. Something like this:

A horrible vicious beast, all rubbery whiskers and spade-like paws

The Grandpas were picking around so tentatively, I thought they were nuts. “Ah, here is one” one of the Grandpas declared and held out his hand.

Really?!? Is that all you got? That thing is just a CRICKET!

I was kind of angry that a bunch of Grandpas did not even know that a mole was a furry mammal that was like a subterranean squirrel with interesting rubbery nose things and were trying to trick me with a joke of a big grasshopper. As you can see, I never quite got over it. In hindsite, I can see they were talking about creatures they referred to as “moles” in their neighborhood and really had no idea what a real mole was. I remain appalled that the Average Grandpa had so little knowledge of insects/moles/mammals vs. cold blooded beasts. Was the public school system so bad in their day that they really got these things mixed up? Sigh.

For all you gardeners out there fighting real moles, here is a link to the Extension Service. They never get mammals and insects confused. link to the Florida Extension Service’s info on moles in lawns.


Giant Thing Alert

An alert reader informed me of the existence of a Giant Thing a while ago. I was driving down a highway in Florida at the time. She told me to be on the lookout for the exit with the 13 foot alligator at it. Not knowing if she meant a statue or a live one or what, I had to pull off to see it. Here is what I saw.

13 foot long 'gator in a souvenir shop

Since I take my responsibility as one of the blogosphere’s most astute observers of Giant Things, I am reporting this to you here. I must admit that this is technically not a Giant Thing, just a very large natural sized one of its kind. Never one to quibble with definitions, I submit this item under the category of Giant Things. Enjoy the majesty.

Other disturbing paraphernalia.

Oh Goodie another Contest!

OK all you blogosphere fans, just what you were waiting for! Infamous is on a journey where plants are weird. This pod was found, so we are looking for an identification of the tree. What kind of plant makes a pod with seeds inside it? Astute readers will immediately guess something in the pea/bean family. This legume is a big tree, though not some little sweet pea, lima bean or soybean sized plant. We are in tropical Florida, so that opens up many possibilities. The first reader to name the plant wins…a free pod of beans. Or nothing whichever is more convenient for me. Bragging rights are always great. So, my little sprouts, NAME THIS PLANT.

Name this member of the legume family

Answer to the question???

Tree of the Week-Tropical Gumbo Limbo

I hate to start a post with a crime scene photo but here it goes.

Pollarded Gumbo Limbo Tree

This tree caught my eye on an earlier trip as a great looking specimen before it was maimed. The so called pruning technique here is called pollarding. The name comes from the word poll, as in a polled Hereford with its horns cut off. The “horns” of the tree are cut off to make this denuded form. It is said that this controls the size of the tree allowing small sprouts from the cut ends to come out like a broom. In my opinion a tragic crime done to a nice tree.

Here is a picture of a normally grown Gumbo Limbo tree.

Normal (that is NOT pollarded) Gumbo Limbo tree

The Latin name of the Gumbo Limbo Tree is Bursera simaruba. It is a native Florida tree. It is found throughout the tropical regions of the Americas and is a popular landscape tree. It has been nicknamed the Tourist tree for its peeling red bark reminiscent of the sunburned skin of tourists. It has small seeds covered in a red meat that is attractive to birds because of the high fat content.

The wood of the tree has been known as the ideal carving wood for carousel animals. It has also been used for living fence posts, as the living twigs jabbed into the ground will often sprout into trees and serve as a support for wire fences. The tree can grow quite large, up to 90 feet tall and three feet across. This large size is probably what led to the pollarding shown in the first picture. Homeowners often plant it and it outgrows its space.

The name Gumbo refers to the tree’s sap. It is sticky and resinous. The uses for it are numerous including glue, varnish and incense.

What is this world coming to?

First Pluto and now Triceratops. I guess science moves along, doesn’t it? I thought that in case you missed this, my readers would like to know that there never was a Triceratops.

“According to research by John Scannella and Jack Horner triceratops was just a young version of a different dinosaur known as a torosauras. John Scannella and Jack Horner are researchers at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana. They have analyzed skulls from dinosaurs that had been categorized as triceratops and torosaurus. They are confident to declare that the dinosaur was actually just a young version of a Torosaurus.”

Perpetual Motion

Perpetual motion, or not.  Not really, but this stopper is unusual.  Here is a minute and 15 seconds you will never get back.

Funny Signs

Funny signs I have seen

Oh Really now?

Too bad I'm 52 I guess I can't go in


But I love to run while in the pool

Dear Handicapped People; deal with it

Giant Conch

Giant Conch from the Florida Keys

Giant Pumpkin and a Cactus

Giant polka dot pumpkins at Fairchild Botanic garden, FLI wonder how this cactus will look on my blog?

And then we came upon a


I felt like it was a scene from Men in Black.

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