Tillandsia Web, Dade Chapter, Florida Native Plant Society

Online Newsletter

Excerpted from our print newsletter. See the printed newsletter for detailed Field Trip directions and reports, for phone and addresses for yard visits and additional articles. Join now to obtain the benefits of full membership!

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September 2000

In This Issue

SNOWBERRY by Roger L. Hammer


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

Status of Pseudophoenix in the Florida Keys — Dena Garvue, Conservation Horticulturist, Fairchild Tropical Garden.

Palms of the genus Pseudophoenix occur in coastal habitats throughout the northern Caribbean basin. Pseudophoenix sargentii ssp. sargentii (Sargent's cherry palm or buccaneer palm) is the only species of this genus found in North America and is the rarest Florida native palm. Today, Biscayne National Park contains the last wild population of the Sargent's cherry palm in North America. Twelve adult palms, 18 juvenile palms, and seedlings are all that remain of this wild population. Fairchild Tropical Garden, Biscayne National Park, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Recreation and Parks, District V are leading conservation efforts to restore Sargent's cherry palm to its former range in the Florida Keys.

Dena will talk about the work being done to map and monitor palms in the wild and describe the habitat in which this palm grows. She will also talk about work being done to discover how best to propagate and grow this endangered palm. On October 7, she will also lead a visit to the Garden’s research facility to show us some of the activities going on there.

Thanks in advance to refreshment donors Toby Davidow and Gwlady Scott (drinks); Ivan Felton, Alice Lingswiler, Bob Mihm, and Carol Rist (snacks). If you have an especially nice plant which might be good for our auction (rather than the raffle), please call Tony Koop at 305-662-2876 -- or just bring it.

October 24 meeting: Martin Buel of Martin Gardens will speak about creating a pond environment for wildlife. We will see a pond created by Martin on our October 28 yard visit to Barbara and Terry Glancy’s in Homestead (details in October Tillandsia).

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Field trips are for the study of plants and enjoyment of nature by FNPS members and their invited guests. Collecting is not permitted. If you aren’t a member, why not join now so you can enjoy all the activities?

If the weather is very bad, call 305-255-6404 to confirm before leaving home.

September 24 (Sunday): Everglades National Park — Long Pine Key and environs. Still seeking a bit of shade this time of year, we’ll stick to the shadier pinelands and the nearby hammocks of ENP near the Florida City entrance.

October 7 (Sat.): Fairchild Tropical Garden Research Center and Matheson Hammock Park. Dena Garvue will show us some of the research activities going on at FTG, including Pseudophoenix conservation, the focus of her September talk. After an hour or so, we will move to Matheson Hammock Park and botanize in the hammock west of Old Cutler Road.

November 5 (Sun.): Skillet Strand in Big Cypress National Preserve.

December 1-3 (Fri.-Sun.): Weekend at Jonathan Dickinson State Park

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

Several interesting meetings and other activities are being planned in the Keys for fall. Please look for a separate mailing to Keys residents. If you have not received any word by mid-September, call Jim Duquesnel, or try the chapter web site: http://www.fnps.org/dade/.

Sept.30 (Sat.): Field trip to Torchwood Preserve (Little Torchwood Key) and Terrestris Preserve (Big Pine Key). These are prime examples of very different lower Keys habitats. The presence of slash pine at Terrestris brings with it the fire maintained subclimax community full of grasses, herbs and shrubs. Key deer help keep all the low-growing tasty stuff even shorter. On Little Torch Key, the low elevation and sparse rainfall, with exposure to salty winds, means this hammock contains only the toughest natives. Leader: Chris Bergh, The Nature Conservancy’s Keys Land Steward.

If you haven’t attended FNPS meetings in the Keys, you should try it out! The June meeting was a combined meeting with the Audubon Society at Indigenous Park in Key West, attended by many people, a dog and a chicken, all of whom enjoyed a buffet served by the Audubon Society. Jeff Scurlock of Mother Ocean Custom Woodworks in Tavernier showcased the magnificence of native woods and some uses for exotics. He stressed the importance of recycling trees that are felled by storms or construction so their beauty lives on. In fact, Jeff’s experiments with veneer may have found a good use for Australian Pine (other than firewood). The meeting finished off with a native plant raffle.

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Native Plant Workshop. 3rd Tuesdays at Bill Sadowski Park, 1/2 mile west of Old Cutler Road on SW 176 Street. Call Roger Hammer at 305-242-7690 (new number) or Steve Woodmansee at 305-247-6547 in advance for the topic to be covered in the "new and improved" workshop.

Fall 2000 Miami-Dade Community College, Kendall Campus, Community Education (non-credit) courses of possible interest to FNPS members include: Watermedia Painting, Botanical Art, Integrated Pest Management, Uncommon & Colorful Plants For South Florida, Butterfly & Hummingbird Gardening in S. Florida, Cultivating Bromeliads & Epiphytes, and Walking Tour of the Garden, scheduled of be held at Parrot Jungle. Courses on Kendall Campus include International Society of Arboriculture Arborist Certification Exam Review, Orchid Care and Maintenance, Principles of Landscape Design, Horticulture in South Florida, Artistic Garden Design, and Saladmania. These courses meet mostly at night or on weekends and are open to everyone over 18. Many are taught by DCFNPS members. For a brochure, call (305) 237-2612.

Growing Native is a low volume email list devoted primarily to the discussion of the cultivation and propagation of Florida native plants. This list has been started to address the need for information on growing Florida native plants. Presently, no periodical publishes information on growing Florida native plants, information on the Internet is spotty and incomplete and no email list specifically focuses on Florida native plant cultivation and propagation. It is hoped that the archives for this email group will constitute a significant resource on Florida native plant cultivation and propagation. Topics for this list include cultivation (both in the ground and in pots), seed germination, vegetative propagation, ethnobotany and utilitarian uses, landscape uses, pruning and maintenance, organic pest control and commercial sources. To join this group, go to http://www.egroups.com/invite/growingnative.

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SNOWBERRY by Roger L. Hammer

If you're a taxonomic "lumper," then there is only one species of snowberry in Florida. But, if you're a "splitter," then there are two species. To anyone who sees the two "forms" of this plant in the wild, you will surely be convinced that they are two distinct species; a large, sprawling vinelike shrub of hammocks (Chiococca alba), and a small, procumbent, spreading plant of pinelands (Chiococca parvifolia). The current consensus, however, is that there is only a single, highly variable species in Florida, with C. parvifolia reduced to a synonym of C. alba.

This seems to be an odd determination but both plants do seem to intergrade, at times, in size and growth habit. But, if you plant seeds of the pineland form you get plants with small leaves, flowers, and fruit. Plant seeds of the hammock form and you get a large, woody shrub with larger leaves, flowers, and fruit. Grow them side by side in the same conditions and they usually maintain their characteristic growth habits. So make your own decision on this one.

Typically, snowberry has small (3/8" long), trumpet-shaped yellow flowers that hang downward in two ranks. The flowers are produced in July and August and are followed by rounded, snowwhite 1/4" fruit that closely resemble little balls of styrofoam (I've eaten them and I think they ARE little balls of styrofoam!). A fruiting specimen is highly decorative in the wild as well as in the home landscape. Grow the larger, hammock form on a fence, arbor, or allow it to clamber over other shrubs as it does in nature. The smaller pineland form can be used as a groundcover, border planting, or grown in a hanging basket.

[In the printed newsletter, Roger discusses finding, propagating and the availability of an unusual color form. Join now to obtain the benefits of full membership!]

Neither form of snowberry is commonly cultivated but both are worth of horticultural attention. If you would like cuttings or seeds of the one on my fence, give me a call at 305/242-7690, I'm always willing to share.

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by Jim Duquesnel

Watching nature is one of the country’s favorite pastimes, so it is no surprise that one reason many of us love native plants is because they attract wildlife. Here in the Keys, summer (August - October) is probably the time when the largest number of trees and shrubs are producing fruit. And though many birds we like to watch actually breed far north of here, the right plants in your yard still bring results.

Probably the all-time champion wildlife food in the Keys is poisonwood, and its fruiting peaks in late spring and early summer, just as our resident birds are raising young. This is probably no accident -- like human children, young birds have special nutritional needs. If you watch carefully, you will notice many adult birds, of species that ordinarily dine mostly on seeds and fruits, bring a lot of insects to their nestlings. Growing birds require more proteins and fats in their diets than adult birds.

Poisonwood fruits have high concentrations of fats known as lipids, and one brave friend of mine claims they actually taste buttery. As all dieters know, fats are calorie packed. They are also where fat soluble vitamins, such as A and E, are stored. The high metabolism of nestling birds, especially during the growth spurt that occurs between hatching and leaving the nest, requires just such a nutritional powerhouse.

In the landscape, poisonwood is a mixed blessing. Many are allergic to it and the contact dermatitis produced results in an itchy rash on sensitive individuals. But, if placed in an out of the way corner of the yard, this plant is a magnet for birds (including White-crowned Pigeons, Woodpeckers, and Gray Kingbirds) as well as squirrels.

By early August, most Keys resident birds are finished nesting and youngsters are following parents around the neighborhood, learning where and what to eat. Families of Mockingbirds, Grackles, Cardinals, and Jays are conspicuous visitors to backyards with feeders, water and the right plants. Less conspicuous Vireos and Prairie Warblers flit unnoticed through the foliage, seeking out insects and small fruits.

Though some plants (such as firebush and strangler fig) produce fruit at almost any time of year, most trees and shrubs have a peak in production that lasts just one to three months. From August through October, blolly, willow bustic, Spanish stopper, black torch, and others will present branches arrayed with colorful fruits.

These are mostly small fruits, and valuable primarily for their carbohydrate content. Their small size makes them ideal energy sources for southbound warblers that begin passing through in August. By the first week of August, American redstarts and Yellow-throated warblers had visited my plantings.

Landscaping diversity is the key to attracting wildlife. While massed plantings are aesthetically pleasing, be sure to leave room for variety. Remember, the birds need food all year. P.B. Tomlinson’s book The Biology of Trees Native to Tropical Florida is probably the best source on the time of fruiting of native plants. Consult with your nurseryman and veteran FNPS members at chapter meetings about what plants will work best in your area.

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WETLAND BIOLOGIST. Seeking field biologist to work on wetland restoration project in southern Everglades. One year term project with possibility for renewal. Minimum qualifications: Bachelor's degree in Biology or related field with 3 years experience or Master's degree with 1 one year experience. Must be able to work independently (sometimes alone in the field) under harsh conditions (heat, rain, walking in water, mosquitoes). Must demonstrate previous experience in identification of wetland plants and be able to identify or learn within 1 month majority of plants found in study area. Will also be required to learn to identify selected vertebrate animals (fishes, amphibian, reptiles, and some birds) in the field. Approximately 1/2 time in the field and 1/2 time office work (data entry & writing reports). Ability to be flexible in hours required (due to weather or sporadic work load). Must be able to use word processing and spread sheet software. Prefer applicants with strong working knowledge of data base software (Paradox preferred), GPS software (Pathfinder Office) or GIS software (ArcView). Benefits include medical (after 90 days), dental, paid legal holidays, 1 week paid vacation after 9 months. Pay range flexible dependent upon experience. Send cover letter, curriculum vitae (including transcripts and pay history), copies of technical reports or publications (3 maximum), and 3 references to: Nancy O'Hare, 381 North Krome Avenue, Suite 200, Homestead, Florida 33030; or via email: nancy_ohare@evergladesresearch.com.

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General information and memberships: 305-255-6404

Contact in the Keys: Jim Duquesnel at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park (305-451-1202)

President: Keith Bradley (305-247-6547)

Vice President and Dade refreshment coordinator: Carrie Cleland (305-661-9023)

DCFNPS e-mail: DadeChFNPS@juno.com

DCFNPS Web page: http://www.fnps.org/dade/

Webmaster: Greg Ballinger

FNPS Web Page: http://www.fnps.org/

Tillandsia editor: Patty Phares (305-255-6404 or (new email address) pphares@mindspring.com)

© 1999-2001 Dade Chapter Florida Native Plant Society, Inc.

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