Tillandsia Web, Dade Chapter, Florida Native Plant Society

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Excerpted from our print newsletter. See the printed newsletter for detailed Field Trip directions and 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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October 1999

In This Issue



Tuesday, October 26, 7:30 p.m., Fairchild Tropical Garden, 10901 Old Cutler Road.

“The ecology of scrub plants on the Lake Wales Ridge” - Dr. Eric Menges, Senior Research Biologist at Archbold Biological Station.

Dr. Menges will describe ongoing research on the endemic Florida scrub plants of the Lake Wales Ridge, many of which occur at Archbold Biological Station, a 5000 acre natural area and research institute near Lake Placid and the site of our November field trip. He will show many color slides of plants and habitats which we may see on the trip and discuss the responses of scrub plants to fire and other disturbances and their long-term prospects for survival in an increasingly-fragmented landscape. This research has direct implications for the conservation and land management of Florida scrub.

Thanks in advance to refreshment donors: Gwlady Scott and Carol Farber (drinks and ice), Donna Kalil, Alice Lingswiler, Barbara McAdam and R.F. Mulgrew (snacks). As usual, additional refreshments and donations to the plant raffle table are appreciated.

Remember that we will auction a plant or other item each month (in addition to the raffle). If you or your business would like to donate the featured item, please call Tony Koop at 305-662-2876 or 305-284-5364. We will announce your donation in the Tillandsia. Think plants, art, services, crafts  be creative!.

November 23 meeting: South Florida Birds and Plants: the Tropical Connection -- Wil Gilbert, Professor Emeritus, Miami-Dade Community College. December: no meeting


Field trips are for the study of plants and enjoyment of nature by FNPS members and their invited guests. Join now to receive all the benefits of FNPS membership!

Saturday, October 16: Curry Hammock (in the Keys). This area straddles US1 and is owned by the state park system but is undeveloped. It contains high hammock, thatch palms and mangrove edge and all the interesting flora of these habitats. Some may continue to other nearby sites (or to the Florida Keys Birding and Wildlife Festival in Marathon).

Friday-Sunday, November 5-7: trip to Archbold Biological Station.

Sunday, December 5: Field trip to Porter Pineland Preserve in South Dade.


Note: All Dade Chapter members are welcome at all chapter activities. The following are planned by the Keys Activities Committee. For more information, call Jim Duquesnel at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, 305-451-1202.

October 21 at the Marathon Branch of the Monroe County Public Library. The program will be about invasive exotic plants and their impact on natural areas. Plant ID workshop at 7:00, program at 7:30, plant raffle and refreshments following the program. The public is welcome, as are donations of native plants for the raffle!

November 24: Joint meeting with the Palm Society in Marathon.

December 13: Joint meeting with the Audubon Society in Key West at 5:30. Jim Duquesnel's slide program will be “Native Colors”.


Nursery News: Gann's Native Tropical Greenery Nursery is still open on some Saturdays to sell remaining stock. They will be open October 23 and 30 and will also sell at the Ramble (Nov. 13-14). Plants are now half price. Call 305-248-5529.

Fairchild Tropical Garden Classes and Tours: Landscaping in South Florida with Natives, David McLean. Oct. 6, 20, 16 (register by Oct. 4). Horticulture 101, Jeff Wasielewski. Oct. 13 (register by Oct. 8). Everglades Wildflower Walk, Roger Hammer. Nov. 20 (register by Nov. 15). Call 305-667-1651, ext. 3322.

Broward Native Plant Society, October 12, 7:30 p.m.: “Invasive Exotic Month” will be honored by speakers Paddy Cunningham-Pastore, Naturalist at Secret Woods, and other authorities. Secret Woods Nature Center, Ω mile west of I-95 on W. State Road 84 in Ft. Lauderdale. Social time is at 7:00.

Florida Keys Birding and Wildlife Festival, October 16-17, Crane Point Hammock, Marathon, MM 50, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Sunday. Programs, field trips, displays, artists. Call the Wild Bird Center for a schedule and to register for special activities. Entrance $4, children under 12 free.

Tropical Audubon Society programs: October 19: "Audubon's Campaign for Old-Growth Forests", Alix Davidson, Heritage Forests Coordinator, National Audubon Society. November 16: “Florida Forever -- The Successor Program to P2000", Sue Mullins, The Nature Conservancy, Tallahassee Office. Meetings are at the Doc Thomas House, 5530 Sunset Drive. Everyone is welcome. Refreshments are at 7:30 and the program is at 8:00. Call 305-666-5111 for more information.


by Roger Hammer

At long last there are some really good books on butterfly gardening that are specific to Florida. Butterfly gardening has become an increasingly popular pastime for many Florida residents, and butterfly gardens have been installed on the grounds of schools and parks as well. Whether you are a native plant buff or an aficionado of Florida butterflies, these are two books that you will likely want to add to your home library:

FLORIDA BUTTERFLY GARDENING by Mark C. Minno and Maria Minno, University Press of Florida, 1999 (ISBN 0-8130-1665-7). This is a comprehensive guide to urban Florida butterflies throughout the state, with photographs of the adult butterfly, larva, chrysalid (pupa), larval food plants, and a section on nectar plants. There is a cultivation guide for recommended host plants and, for parents and teachers, a special section on activities with butterflies. Each activity includes level of difficulty (from easy to advanced) complete with "how to" information, materials you will need, and questions to ponder. This book comes highly recommended for both the novice and seasoned butterfly gardener. Available at the Fairchild Tropical Garden bookstore or your favorite local book shop. (210 pages).

GARDENING FOR FLORIDA'S BUTTERFLIES, by Pamela F. Trass, Great Outdoors Publishing Company, St. Petersburg FL, 1999 (ISBN 0-8200-0415-4). This book is divided into two basic sections; one on butterflies and their larval food plants, and one on nectar plants. The book is chock full of photographs of the most common butterflies in Florida gardens and good photographs of their larvae. The nectar plant section offers good gardening tips on cultivation requirements, flowering season, and photographs of each species. A very worthwhile book for butterfly gardeners throughout the state. Check your local bookstore or write to the publisher at 4747 28th Street North, St. Petersburg, FL 33714 (134 pages).


by Don Keller

Most of the ferns in our collections are mesophytes requiring a medium amount of water -- about 50 to 60 inches per year in the wild. Several of our specimens are epiphytic -- growing on other plants. Some are epilithic -- growing on rocks. Other species are xerophytes growing in the arid Southwest United States. A very interesting group are aquatic--growing in water.

The most common aquatic fern in South Florida is Salvinia minima, water spangles. It grows mostly in the still water of drainage ditches around farms. It rapidly forms dense mats that can cover every inch if the water's surface. Oddly, this fern has no roots. What appears to be roots are actually the fertile fronds. The spores are reduced and released underwater.

Azolla caroliniana, mosquito fern, is also common in ditches and swamps. It too forms wall-to-wall mats, usually a shimmering blue-green color but turning reddish in direct sunlight. The interesting and odd thing about this species is that it has a symbiotic relationship with blue-green algae (cyano bacteria). The bacteria is an integral part of the plant and neither can live without the other. When taking this plant into cultivation used aged or distilled water. The chlorine in tap water will kill the bacteria and thus the fern.

Two species of Ceratopteris are present. C. thalictroides, water sprite, was once common in Black Creek Canal but is no longer found there. It is still extant in a cypress swamp on SR 84. It has the unique habit of floating along the canal in summer but sinking to the bottom in winter and popping up again in spring.

A larger species, C. pteridoides, water horn fern, grows in the old Tamiami canal, in the ditch beside the tram road in Shark Valley, and in the C-111 canal. A third species, C. deltoides, a very popular aquarium plant, has been erroneously reported for Florida.

Marsilia vestita, clover fern, has been reported (probably erroneously). The plants were probably M. macropoda which was recently discovered in a ditch in Collier County by Keith Bradley. Marsilia species can be identified positively only by studying the sporocarps--the fruiting bodies.

Isoetes flaccida, quillwort, was reported in Dade County years ago. It is a tiny plant and may grow completely submerged in gently flowing water where it would be difficult to see. It may still be present -- no one really searches for it.

None of the above plants are available in the trade. The Ceratopleris and the Isoetes are difficult horticultural subjects. They seem to require gently flowing water. The other species are prolific and will quickly fill up all available space.

Copyright 1999 Dade Chapter Florida Native Plant Society, Inc.

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