It’s a Crocodile. No, It’s an Alligator!
August is a hot, take-it-easy month so I think it’s time to have some fun and take note of the rather exotic “flora and fauna” that exists in New Orleans and Louisiana (translation: plants and animals). I’m going to use the question-and-answer format to keep things simple.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A GATOR AND A CROC?
A gator is usually a blackish color and has a wider, but shorter, U-shaped nose/mouth. All of its upper teeth can be seen even when its mouth is shut. Their maximum length is around 14 ft. A croc’s front ends are more pointed and V-shaped. It can grow up to roughly 19 ft. If you take a swamp tour in NOLA you’ll see gators who love marshmallows. Crocs hang out in Florida – not here.
WHAT IS THE STATE FLOWER OF LOUISIANA?
The beautiful magnolia with its rich fragrance is the state flower. Come to New Orleans in the summer and you’ll see thousands of stately magnolia trees with large, creamy white blooms. Rainforest plants such as bamboo and banana trees are also plentiful. And dramatic, split-leaf philodendrons do well in our fair city (I love these guys – they give you “lots of bang for your buck.”)
WHAT IS THE HIGHEST POINT IN NOLA – AND THE LOWEST?
Eighty-five-year-old Monkey Hill is the most famous hill in the city BUT the current HIGHEST point is actually “Laborde Mountain” in the 60-acre Couturie Forest in City Park. It is 43 ft. above sea level. The LOWEST point in all of Louisiana is in New Orleans: that’s 8 ft. below sea level.
WHAT IS THE WEATHER LIKE IN NEW ORLEANS?
This city has a warm climate with mild winters. During the summer the temperature can rise above 104° F. It can be very humid because of the amount of rain. June to November is hurricane season -- with the peak in late August and September. Note: this is not flora or fauna BUT everything is affected by the weather, so I’m including it.
WHAT TYPES OF BIRDS ARE FOUND IN LOUISIANA?
The list is endless – but let’s start with ducks, geese, swans, quails, wild turkeys, loons, flamingoes, herons, egrets, pelicans, vultures, ospreys, eagles and hawks – if it flies, you’ll find it in this state.
WHAT IS THE STATE TREE OF LOUISIANA?
The bald cypress was designated the official state tree in 1963. Where did it get its name? It is deciduous (this means it loses its needles in the autumn months) and has a “bald” appearance. It rises from the dark waters of the bayou (and usually has Spanish moss adorning it) -- where willows, maples and alders are also found.
WHAT FLOWERS LOVE TROPICAL WEATHER?
Tropical hibiscus, bird-of-paradise, bougainvillea and numerous gingers are grown for their beautiful, and often fragrant, flowers. Their extended bloom periods stretch through the summer months. And they keep on flowering no matter how hot it gets.
WHAT TYPE OF FISH WILL SPORT FISHERMEN FIND IN NOLA?
Deepwater fishing allows one to catch tuna, amberjack, snapper, grouper and more. You can also fish in City Park – all you need is a fishing license, pole, bait and patience. The Park’s waterways are teaming with a variety of fish: bass, sunfish, catfish and speckled trout (one of my favorites) – all are just waiting for you.
And let’s not forget the heart-stopping and majestic oak trees that one finds in New Orleans. Book your stay at Rathbone Mansion on Esplanade and you’ll see them every time you step out the door.