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March madness: Spring explodes in South Florida
skyblue lupine
Skyblue lupine, photographed at Yamato Scrub Natural Area in Boca Raton.

BOCA RATON — It was the opportunity to see this flower, the skyblue lupine, that got us out of our air conditioned office the other day and hiking the south tract of the Yamato Scrub Natural Area in the midafternoon sun. It is spring, after all, and the only time of year that this rare natural beauty flowers.

Yes, we do have a distinct spring here in South Florida, and it's not just a time of year when it's warmer than winter but not yet miserably hot as summer. We do, in fact, have four distinct seasons, not just season and off-season. All you have to do follow nature's rhythms to see them. Take a walk at Green Cay Nature Center in Boynton Beach or Wakadahatchee Wetlands in Delray and see the the nesting birds, some getting ready to mate — male red-winged blackbirds showing off their blazing red, yellow and orange epilets, for example — while others — great blue herons, cormorants and anhingas — are already raising young.

Or you can walk a place like Yamato Scrub and watch the wildflowers come alive. There's also a nesting osprey for good measure. Can't miss the massive stick nest sitting by itself.

Skyblue lupine is one of our favorites, and arguably one of Florida's most beautiful flowers. It's also among the finickiest. We've seen only once before, several years ago at Juno Dunes and were quite taken by the plant. So taken that we considered making the 40-mile trip just to see it.



Then we recalled a conversation we had a year ago with the man charged with overseeing Yamato Scrub for Palm Beach County. He told us that skyblue lupine did in fact grow within the natural area, and that they might be found on the south tract. He also said they were sort of hit or miss. Catch them at the right time in the right year, and you catch one spectacular show.

So when we headed out, we were half-prepared to not find anything. Not 10 minutes down the trail, we found what we were looking for, but the flowers seemed past their prime. Across the way, there were more plants and in better shape. Success!

We continued the hike and came across a huge mound of skyblue lupine in its prime and full of flowers. That's where we took the picture above.

We've hiked something like 100 parks and preserves, from Collier County to Key West to the northern end of Martin County. We've seen some incredibly beautiful sites, but nothing that comes close to matching that mass of electric blue flowers. There are flowers more beautiful, more exotic but

If You Go: The plants we saw were still blooming as of March 24 (Wednesday). Yamato Scrub is located on Clint Moore Road in Boca Raton just east of Congress Avenue. Access it via I-95 at Yamato Road and head north, or at Congress and head south. Parking is on the north side of Clint Moore but the plants are on the south side. Follow the trail counter clockwise.

Pawpaw to us is one of the first signs of spring, and we found a profusion of it while hiking Yamato Scrub.
The nesting osprey at Yamato Scrub, with a photo inserted of the same osprey off the nest. The nest has been there for several years. Don't know if its the same ospreys using it or another pair, but it is absolutely massive.
osprey in nest

— David Sedore

Unless otherwise stated, all photographs are property of the publishers and may not be used without their express permission.
Wild South Florida — Naturally Wild!