Bougainvillea; Photo by Brian Holaway
Bougainvillea is another favorite flowering plant that can be seen around Cabbage Key. This plant was first collected outside of Rio de Janeiro by Jeanne Baret, known as the first woman to circumnavigate the globe. Disguised as a man, she joined the expedition of the French Admiral Louis Antoine de Bougainville, for whom the flowering plant is named.
A plant that always intrigues is the night-blooming cereus. Many people wonder at first what it is, then are even more perplexed when they find out. It is a cactus that wraps itself around many
trees on the island including, but not limited to, cabbage palms, oak trees, strangler figs, and even the occasional buttonwood. It blooms once a year and only at night. Sometimes if you are lucky, you can glimpse this amazing flower in the early morning.
Hibiscus; Photo by Brian Holaway
Hibiscus can be found around Cabbage Key as well. This is a favorite of many people, plant lovers or not. It just has that appealing flower that people gravitate toward. Botanists debate where the
hibiscus plant was first discovered, but we do know that once it established itself in Hawaii, the people there absorbed it into their culture. No matter where the hibiscus originated, it is always a pleasure to see on Cabbage Key.
The botany of an island is in the eye of the beholder. Time spent on Cabbage Key smelling the flowers, seeing the colors, feeling the petals, stopping, pausing to take in the flora of the island will be time well spent.
Capt. Brian Holaway is a Florida Master Naturalist and has been a Southwest Florida shelling and ecotour guide since 1995. His boat charters visit the islands of Pine Island Sound, including Cayo Costa State Park, Cabbage Key, Pine Island, and North Captiva.