Tillandsia Web, Dade Chapter, Florida Native Plant Society

Online Newsletter

Excerpted from our print newsletter. See the printed newsletter for detailed Field Trip reports, for phone and addresses for yard visits and for articles which the authors may not want released to the World Wide Web. Join now to obtain the benefits of full membership!

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May 1999

In This Issue



    Tuesday, May 25, 7:30 p.m., Fairchild Tropical Garden, 10901 Old Cutler Road.

    Pollination in Pine Rocklands - Dr. Suzanne Koptur, FIU

    Susanne, who is a Professor of Biology at FIU and DCFNPS member, will discuss the effects of habitat fragmentation on pollination and reproduction of understory plants in Dade county pine rocklands. She and her students have been studying plant/animal interactions in the tropics and subtropical south Florida for nearly 15 years.

    Their other main research program on pine rockland habitats focuses on how fire affects plant communities in pine rocklands of the Lower Keys. This summer she and her colleagues will begin studying how Key Deer grazing after fire affect pine rockland plant populations on Big Pine Key. Members of her lab work on herbivory, breeding systems, pollination biology, population dynamics, and restoration of endangered and endemic plants and insects.

    We will also have a short presentation from Eileen Smith, master's candidate in Environmental Studies at FIU (and Suzanne's graduate student), on her research on re-establishment of the atala butterfly by restoring its host plant (Zamia pumila, coontie) on Key Biscayne. She will administer her survey of Atala sightings and coontie occurrence in native plant gardens.

    Thanks in advance to refreshment donors Vivian Waddell and Freg Gillis (drinks and ice), and Ivan Felton, Lee and Scott Massey and Juan Espinosa-Almodovar (snacks). Additions to the refreshments, donations for the raffle, empty pots or seeds to share are greatly appreciated.

    June 22: Annual summer solstice evening yard visit and social. We will visit to yard of two members in South Miami. Details in the June newsletter. This meeting is for FNPS members and their guests only.

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    Saturday, May 15:. We will visit one of the few remaining tropical hardwood hammocks in the Redland. Because these hammocks are so rare, some of the flora is also rare and interesting.

    Sunday, June 27: We will visit a south Dade pine rockland with many interesting species, including the endangered deltoid spurge. The county purchased the land as part of the Environmentally Endangered Lands program.

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    Volunteers are needed for the FNPS display and sale at the Royal Poinciana Fiesta on Saturday, June 5, 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., at the Miami Museum of Science. Cammie Donaldson, FNPS Hispanic Outreach Coordinator, will set up a bilingual display and bring a selection of natives from local nurseries to sell. At 2:00, DCFNPS board member Karsten Rist will present a program in the auditorium on native trees. Other activities include arborist talks, children's activities, plant sales (orchids, trees, etc.), and "Taste of the Tropics" (2:00-4:00, $5). Admission to the event is free. Bring the family and come! Call Patty at 305-255-6404 to volunteer (answer plant and FNPS questions, cashier, help set up and break down - all warm bodies qualify!).

    Thanks Don and Joyce! We all know already that Don and Joyce Gann have retired and that Gann's Native Tropical Greenery has (essentially) closed. (Thanks to Georgia Tasker for the nice article in the April 25 Miami Herald - what more can we say?). Our chapter's existence and the local availability of a wide variety of native plants over the years is due more to their efforts than to anyone else's. Hauling plants to every weekend plant event in the area over the years isn't a way to get rich - but it has been a way for hundreds of South Florida residents to become aware of native plants, have the opportunity to purchase them, and learn about the plants from experts. We are losing a nursery, but we are also gaining the opportunity to have more "quality time" from two people who know an incredible amount about native plants and love to share that knowledge.

    We are also saying goodbye to former board member Nancy Masterson, who is leaving for Texas, where she will continue working for American Forests and husband John will be a Vice President at Texas Lutheran University. DCFNPS, TREEmendous Miami, other tree organizations and many American Forests projects such as Cool Communities benefited greatly from her devotion to urban trees (especially natives), expertise in working with everyone from community groups to politicians, organizing and just plain getting things done (things that most people intend to do, but don't). Thanks, Nancy - we'll miss you!

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    We would like to encourage our Keys members to contribute announcements and articles to Tillandsia, so we're reserving a special space. Ironically, the first announcement from Jim Duquesnel is:

    Keys residents will hold a meeting on May 13 to discuss forming their own FNPS chapter. Please call Tina Henize at 305-745-3502 for more information.

    Whether or not a separate chapter will come to pass, more native plant-related activities in the Keys would be welcome and are needed. Huge crowds of residents turned out in February to receive free native trees and hear educational talks as part of an effort to re-landscape after last year's storms in the Keys. DCFNPS would like to facilitate activities and education in the Keys, so please send newsletter items! Call Patty (305-255-6404) in advance to work out the logistics of submitting items. Deadlines are the 15th of the month prior to publication, but a 2- month lead time on events is best.

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    Bilingual literature for Dade County now available: color brochure describing benefits of Florida's native plants, plus fact sheets describing native trees and shrubs for local landscapes. Call Patty at 305-255-6404 to get as many as you can distribute!

    A big THANK-YOU to Keith Bradley, Gwladys Scott, and Tiffany Troxler for their gracious guiding of 35 Miami High School students through the Anhinga, Gumbo Limbo and Pinelands trails of Everglades National Park. Our guides made sure that bellowing alligators and baby anhingas were on hand to greet the students and bolster their enthusiasm for the great outdoors - all the more important since only a few had ever been to the Everglades or any other natural areas.

    FNPS will be assisting North Hialeah Elementary School in the purchase and installation of native plants for their courtyard area. To earn credit toward the purchase of plants, approximately 60-70 faculty, administrative, and other staff members attended a 45-minute introductory presentation on native plants. Thanks to DCFNPS member George Childs for initiating this project.

    Miami High's Aware Club sold over 150 native plants in five hours to their parents, fellow students, and teachers! The kids did a great job of publicizing the sale and selling the plants. A plant description and care instructions were provided with each plant. Chapter members driving through Little Havana can look forward to seeing more black ironwood, Simpson stopper, Spanish stopper, Florida privet, seagrape, cocoplum, Jamaica caper, wild coffee, and gumbo limbo. Thanks to Native Tree Nursery, Plant Creations, Meadow Beauty (Lake Worth), and DR Bates Seeds (Loxahatchee) for providing plants at wholesale cost.

    Thanks to members Ana Chavez, Marian Dahman, Juan Fernandez, and Norel Ruiz for staffing our display at Earth Day Little Havana, Jose Marti Park, on April 24. Norel and Ana survived the onslaught of dozens of children eager to do leaf rubbings, Juan gave mini-lectures almost non-stop from 1:30 to 4:00, and Marian greeted everyone with a smiling face, literature, and raffle tickets.

    We will have a bilingual display at the Royal Poinciana Fiesta on June 5. See "Chapter News and Needs" above for details.

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    Broward Native Plant Society meetings: May 11- Judy Sulser, speaks on the ecology of mangroves. 7:30 p.m., Secret Woods Nature Center (just west of I-95 on SR84).

    Tropical Audubon Society activities: 5530 Sunset Drive, phone 666-5111.

    MDCC Kendall Campus Environmental Center classes for spring and summer include many of interest to native plant enthusiasts - in fact, some are taught by DCFNPS members. Classes are held in the Kendall/South Miami area. Call Diane at 305-237-0636 for more information on these and other classes.
    Landscape and Gardening: Artistic Garden Design (Mary Ruden, 6/8-6/15); Care and Maintenance of Your South Florida Landscape (Wendy Saltzburg, 7/7-7/21); Composting Workshop (5/22); Exploring Garden Styles (Mary Ruden, 5/12-5/19); Landscape Your Home (Wendy Saltzburg, 5/12-6/30); Using Palms in the Home Landscape (6/5-6/26).
    Topics in Landscape Technology (attend as a non-credit student within a college credit course; instructor: Ron Mossman) Irrigation Systems(5/12-25); Landscape Construction (6/1-15); Restoration of Upland Native Plant Habitats (5/12-6/15).
    Kids and the Environment: Ecology camps (available all summer).

    Native Plant Workshop: 3rd Tuesdays at Bill Sadowski Park, 1/2 mile west of Old Cutler Road on SW 176 Street. Plant ID - "serious" but not intense! Call Roger at 305-257-0933.

    Backyard colonies of atala butterflies are being counted by FIU graduate student Eileen Smith as part of her thesis research for the Environmental Studies Master of Science program. Please call Eileen at 305-858-0565 with the location, number of coontie plants and number of atalas in your colony.

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    Gann's Native Tropical Greenery, our mainstay for many years, has closed and Don and Joyce are retiring. However, when they return they return in June from their vacation, they may reopen briefly to sell some left-over inventory. We'll keep you posted.

    Veber's Jungle Garden is diversifying its inventory to include more wildflowers and other natives, and also will begin some regular weekend hours within a few months. In the mean time, Leslie is always happy to take care of retail customers by appointment. Call her at 305-242-9500.

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    by Roger L. Hammer

    On March 28, 1999, my wife, Lisa, and friends dropped me and a 17' aluminum canoe off at Chokoloskee Island. My mission was to canoe solo to Flamingo along Everglades National Park's 99-mile wilderness waterway (my third such trip). I had forgotten that it was solitary confinement with hard labor, and the mosquitoes were cruel and unusual punishment. So, with more than ample provisions, I set off for a nine-day trip. If you've ever had any trouble telling the difference between red, white and black mangroves, then canoeing the wilderness waterway is just for you. For a week or more that's pretty much all you're going to see ... unless you look a bit closer.

    On my second day out I paddled slowly along a narrow, unnamed creek and saw seven different species of native orchids adorning the trees. The roots of a long-ago fallen tree harbored the cowhorn orchid, Cyrtopodium punctatum, yellowspike orchid, Polystachya concreta, and night-scented orchid, Epidendrum nocturnum. Growing on buttonwood trees were the more familiar butterfly orchid, Encyclia tampensis, and clamshell orchid, Encyclia cochleata. Farther along were vining thickets of worm-vine orchid, Vanilla barbellata, and some young mule-ear orchids, Oncidium undulatum. None were in flower but I could see emerging flower spikes on the butterfly orchids, which typically flower in June and July at the height of mosquito season.

    DCFNPS president Keith Bradley had mentioned to me prior to my trip that if I went down Rodgers River, I should look for a tree called mangrove mallow, Pavonia paludicola. This rare, native mallow has small populations at Snapper Creek Preserve and at Black Point Marina, both in Miami-Dade County, but Keith has seen a herbarium specimen that was collected in 1966 (as Pavonia scabra) by Frank Craighead along Rodgers River. I spent my third night at the Rogers River chickee, awoke at dawn and backtracked about 1.5 miles to Rogers River Bay, which is fed by tidal flow from the Gulf of Mexico via Rogers River. This river is relatively narrow and meanders about eight miles to the Gulf. It wasn't long before I saw my first mangrove mallow. Then I saw another, and another, and another, all along the river bank. It is certainly the largest population in Florida but, surprisingly, I didn't notice a single specimen along any other river. I took photos since I did not have a permit to collect herbarium specimens from the park.

    Rogers River is about midway between Everglades City and Flamingo, making it one of the most remote places in Everglades National Park, yet, about three miles from the Gulf I noticed four large royal poincianas, Delonix regia, towering above the surrounding vegetation. These natives of Madagascar were undoubtedly persisting from some long-ago abandoned home site. I'm not sure if I envied those hardy souls who braved that part of Florida back in the 1880s and early 1900s, or if I felt sorry for them. It takes four days by canoe to get there on the wilderness waterway from either direction, and they had no numbered markers to follow, nor did they likely even have window screen. Of course, the indigenous Tequesta and Calusa Indians from that part of Florida had even less.

    My next stop was the Broad River campsite situated about two miles in from the Gulf. It's a scenic spot with some interesting plants growing around the campsite. A large population of false mint, Dicliptera sexangularis, with curved, tubular, red flowers was being visited by monarch butterflies. White milkweed vine, Sarcostemma clausum, was clambering up trees, and this plant is utilized as larval food by monarch and queen butterflies. Sea oxeye, Borrichia frutescens, coastal leather fern, Acrostichum aureum, blue porterweed, Stachytarpheta jamaicensis, and morning-glory, Ipomea indica, were all present, but viewing them up close was made difficult by wickedly spiny thickets of gray nickerbean, Caesalpinia bonduc, and pull-and-hold-back, Pisonia aculeata. Trees included buttonwood, Cococarpus erectus, Jamaica dogwood, Piscidia piscipula, gumbo-limbo, Bursera simaruba, and Florida privet, Forestiera segregata.

    Once I left the Broad River campsite, pretty much all I saw were mangroves until I got to Buttonwood Canal, just two miles from Flamingo. Some nice specimens of the poisonous manchineel, Hippomane mancinella, were hanging over the canal, along with gumbo-limbo, Jamaica dogwood, and other common coastal trees. Mangrove cuckoos, prairie warblers, yellow warblers, white-crowned pigeons, swallow-tailed kites, and red-shouldered hawks were all seen along the canal.

    It was a nice, relaxing, nine-day trip and the two best things that I brought along were a 2 horsepower outboard motor (for when the wind and tide were not in my favor) and a bottle of 12-year-old Royal Oak Trinidad estate rum (for when the wind and tide were not in my favor).

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