White Titi blooming back in the spring [ Buffer Preserve | Contributed ]
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Come hiking on Titi Road at the Buffer Preserve    

This article is part of a series exploring the many trails within the St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve.

So, we have covered the roads leading from Treasure Road on our Trail Map at the St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve in my columns over the past few months. There are two roads you will not see on the Trail Map, Moccasin and Titi. 

This week, we are going to talk about one of them — and why it is named Titi Road.

Titi (pronounced tie-tie) Road has an interesting shrub and tree on it. While Titi plants grow elsewhere on the Preserve this road was given the name. Titi might be called Leatherwood or over a dozen other names such as, he-huckleberry, black titi, white titi, red titi, Cyrilla or Swamp titi. 

The Titi Family’s scientific name is Cyrillaceae.  In the reference and field guide, The Trees of Florida, by Gil Nelson, we learn that the family contains a total of only three genera and 13 species worldwide. 

The first time I remember reading about Titi and wondering what it looked like was in The Great Tide by Rubylea Hall. I remember it was hard for the characters to walk through it. Maybe they went through it because it was a shorter route – memory escapes me. However, it made me want to know what it looked like. I was excited to see there were two kinds of it in the Preserve.

Sometimes the titi grows so thick in places on the preserve our Environmental Specialists chop it down. It will crowd out other plants and create a place where it is extremely hard to walk through. Rubylea Hall must have had firsthand experience with Titi.

There are two genera of the Cyrillaceae that occur in Florida, both only have one species each, and they both like to live in primarily wet habitats. (Genera is the plural of genus which is a class of items such as a group of plants of animals with similar traits, qualities or features.)

The scientific name for White Titi is Cyrilla (Sir-RIL-uh) recemiflora (ray-see-mih-FLOR-uh, or Swamp Titi. Swamp Titi’ s blooms are straight up from its stem and is white or near white. Its blooms reach for the sky, standing straight and tall.  

Black titi (Cliftonia monophylla) has yellow seeds and its blooms droop. 

The black titi, or buckwheat tree (Cliftonia monophyla), blooms in early spring in the swamps of the Florida Panhandle. 

Beekeepers love Black Titi because it is a great source of nectar and pollen for honey. It is important to note that only black Titi is used by honeybees, while White Titi should not be grown for honey production. White Titi is not a good pollinator plant as it can promote a condition called “purple brood” which is detrimental to the honeybees.

Let’s take a walk together

We will be talking about the other gates and entrances to the Preserve in future articles. For now, let’s do some field work with our volunteer extraordinaire, John Lucas. Since joining the team at the Buffer, Lucas has been so impressed with the Preserve, he is anxious to do something to help everyone learn about it. 

So, Lucas will assist in trips to the different roads we have read about on the first Friday of each month at 9 a.m. EDT. The first walk will be along Cattle Dip Road. You can ride the tram or walk it with a group, take your time, ask questions and enjoy being outdoors.

The First Friday tours will go places the ordinary citizen might not go. It will introduce you to many different roads in the preserve – not just a few. Adventure here we come! As the tram cannot travel on some of the roads, it can take you down Treasure Road so that you can enjoy a nice stroll down without having to hike three miles to do so. What a deal! 

Hats, sunscreen and water are suggested. Cameras and binoculars add another element to make your trip memorable. A little rain never hurt anyone, so light rain will still be a go on First Friday. Only in the event of lightning and fear for public safety will a trip be canceled.  

There is no charge for the trips. However, registering will assure your spot. Call  850-229-1787 or 850-227-4342 to register.

Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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