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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February 2001

In This Issue

UPCOMING MEETING IN DADE COUNTY
UPCOMING FIELD TRIPS (DADE)
ACTIVITIES IN THE KEYS
NATIVE PLANT DAY, SATURDAY, MARCH 24
CHAPTER NEWS AND NEEDS
SATURDAY WORKSHOP SERIES IN NATIVE PLANT IDENTIFICATION BEGINS ON FEB. 24
THE PLANT AND ANIMAL CONNECTION
OTHER EVENTS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
CHAPTER VOLUNTEER WORKDAYS
PORTERWEEDS REVISITED
EVERYBODY, GUMBO LIMBO MON!
2001 FNPS ANNUAL CONFERENCE
KEY CONTACTS FOR DCFNPS

UPCOMING MEETING IN DADE COUNTY

Tuesday, February 27, 7:30 p.m. at Fairchild Tropical Garden, 10901 Old Cutler Road.

Happy Anniversary Natural Areas Management! Ten Years of Progress, Preservation and Restoration. — Linda McDonald, Miami Dade Park and Recreation Department Natural Areas Management.

In the ten years since Natural Areas Management division was formed, its restoration of natural areas whacked by Hurricane Andrew has been well-publicized. But there is a lot more to learn about NAM and the lands in its care. Linda McDonald, a restoration biologist with NAM and a past-president of DCFNPS, will tell us about the history of NAM from its humble beginnings, through post-hurricane restoration to the current status of the hardest-hit areas as well as natural areas not devastated by the hurricane, and what is in store for the next ten years. We will hear about NAM’s success stories, some plans gone awry, Environmentally Endangered Lands sites, and lesser-known jewels among Dade County’s collection of natural areas.

March 27 meeting: Rob Campbell, grower for Plant Creations, will speak about uncommon natives and places to see them.

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UPCOMING FIELD TRIPS (DADE)

Field trips are for the study of plants and enjoyment of nature by FNPS members (Dade and Keys) and their invited guests. Collecting is not permitted. Please join today so that you can enjoy all the benefits of membership!

Saturday, February 24: Bear Island, Big Cypress National Preserve. This area of sandy, mesic flatwoods contains species which are more northern in distribution than we see in Dade County and lots of "cool stuff", according to our experts.

Saturday, March 17: Ludlam Pineland and Deering North Addition coastal wetlands. We will first visit the 10-acre Ludlam pineland, with its many endangered and endemic plants. Then we will carpool to the nearby Deering Addition, a 45-acre parcel with coastal band mangrove, cord grass salt marsh and a small tropical hardwood hammock. The cord grass salt marsh is one of the rarest natural communities in Dade County. Both properties were acquired under the EEL Program.

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ACTIVITIES IN THE KEYS

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.

Upcoming meetings (REVISED DATES!):

Thursday, February 8 (not Feb. 22) at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park's Visitor Center. The park's entrance gate is unlocked from 6:45PM until 7:15PM. If you arrive late, it may not be easy to get in to the meeting. This is a joint meeting with the Izaak Walton League and the Audubon Society.

An informal plant identification starts at 7 p.m. (bring a cutting to identify or discuss). The program begins at 7:30. Key Largo Hammocks Botanical State Park's biologist Jim Duquesnel and the park's nursery volunteers will describe how and when and where to collect and prepare native seeds and how to care for native plants. Examples of preferred potting soils, fertilizers and other aids will be shown. Several types of native fruit will used in demonstrations. After refreshments and a time for members of the three environmental groups to meet each other and discuss topics of mutual interest, the evening will culminate with a raffle of native plants brought in by members.

Thursday, March 29 (not Mar. 28) at the Islamorada Public Library. Dena Garvue of Fairchild Tropical Garden: "Saving the Sargent’s Cherry Palm." Plant ID at 7:00, program at 7:30.

Field trip: Saturday, February 17: Long Key State Park. Meet at the park (MM 67.5) at 9 a.m. Leader: Janice Duquesnel. Call Beth Bergh for more information (305-872-5787)

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NATIVE PLANT DAY, SATURDAY, MARCH 24

Please invite your friends and neighbors Castellow Hammock Park in the Redland for Native Plant Day. It's free, fun and full of information. There will be programs and workshops about native plants in landscaping and in natural areas, displays, nature walks, plant and book sales, raffles and children's activities. We will also celebrate the reopening of Castellow Hammock Park, which was flattened by Hurricane Andrew.

Your chapter needs you! Please help in at least one aspect of the preparation or at the event. See details in the enclosed preliminary flier and use it to start spreading the word in your neighborhood, workplace, club, etc. We will have a final poster/flier in early March. Please call Mary Rose (305-378-0382) or Patty Phares (305-255-6404) to help with any of the following -- please call ASAP so that we don’t have to beat the bushes at the last minute.

  1. Publicity: suggest a place/ publication/ media contact to send a press release or flier.
  2. Distribute fliers/posters to a park, meeting, etc.
  3. Help at set-up on Friday, March 23 (daytime).
  4. Sign up to help at the event. Some possible duties: last-minute set-up; sell books; staff entrance table, displays, info tent; answer question at plant sale; sell refreshments; staff the plant id booth; lead nature walk; label raffle plants; introduce speakers/keep time; assist in children’s activities; general "go-fer" /whatever; breakdown.
  5. DONATE RAFFLE ITEMS. We need nice-looking native plants, books, crafts, artwork, frameable photos, gift certificates, and anything else that native plant lovers would like.

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CHAPTER NEWS AND NEEDS

Design with Natives Landscape Awards Program. March 1 is the deadline to submit your favorite native landscape or restoration for recognition by FNPS. There are categories for everything -- home, school, business, government agencies, etc. See all the details in the fall/winter 2000 Palmetto (photo of Landscape Award winner on cover). It isn’t just about seeking praise for yourself — bringing attention to worthy native plant landscapes can encourage others to follow suit and impress those who provide funding. Do it!

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SATURDAY WORKSHOP SERIES IN NATIVE PLANT IDENTIFICATION BEGINS ON FEB. 24

For all of you plant enthusiasts who love natives but can’t identify as many as you’d like …this is the workshop for you! Starting in February, Tony Koop of the University of Miami will conduct a series of hands-on, Saturday workshops on basic botany and the use of taxonomic keys in plant identification. If you have any questions or would like to reserve your space, please contact Tony at his UM lab at (305) 284-5364 (be prepared to leave a message). Or e-mail him at Tkoop@fig.cox.miami.edu.

Updated Schedule:

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THE PLANT AND ANIMAL CONNECTION

FNPS Hernando, Nature Coast, Pinellas, Serenoa and Suncoast Chapters have organized more than 20 different springtime activities, including nature walks, talks, ranch tours and plant sales to raise awareness of the vital role that our native plants play in providing habitat for Florida’s wildlife. For more information please contact Karen Fraley 941-794-8773 in Manatee or Sarasota county, Alexa Yates 727-595-4714 in Hillsborough or Pinellas county and Cammie Donaldson 321-951-2210 for everywhere else.

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OTHER EVENTS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS

Native Plant Workshop. 3rd Tuesdays (February 20) at Bill Sadowski Park, 1/2 mile west of Old Cutler Road on SW 176 Street. Call Steve Woodmansee at 305-247-6547 or Roger Hammer at 305-242-7688 or more information. The February topic is Celastraceae (stafftree family) and pine rockland plants.

Miami-Dade Park and Recreation Dept Natural Areas Management Volunteer Work Days and Walks. 9 a.m. to noon. Please call 305-257-0933 for details. Workdays: Feb.17 — Oak Grove Park (690 NE 159 St.) March 10-Florida City Pineland (SW 344 St. and SW 8 Ave.) Nature walks: March 3-Highland Oaks Park (20300 NE 25 Ave.) March 24-Little George Hammock (Country Walk Drive and SW 149 Ave.)

Tropical Audubon Society meeting: Feb. 20. Richard Pettigrew, Chairman of the Board of Audubon of Florida will discuss Florida’s future with the Everglades Restoration Act. Social at 7:30 p.m. and program at 8 p.m. The public is invited. 5530 Sunset Dr. 305-665-5111.

TAS Native Plant Sale: March 17-18. Proceeds support conservation efforts of TAS.

Fairchild Tropical Garden Classes. Container gardening, March 14, Wendy Saltzburg. Palms for your home landscape, March 21, Chris Migliaccio. Let’s Explore at Fairchild, L.E.A.F., a nature club for kids 8-12, meets on Saturdays. Call 667-1651 ext. 3322 for more information and reservations.

Key Largo Hammocks Lecture Series. Wednesday evenings from 730-830 p.m. Feb. 14 "Romance on the Reef", Martin Moe; Feb 21 "The Nature Conservancy in Florida", Jim Fryer and Feb. 28 "Tree Snails in the Keys" Deborah Shaw. Call John Pennekamp State Park at 305-451-1202 for more information.

Society for Ecological Restoration, Coastal Plain Chapter Conference: Feb 20-21, Savannah, GA. "The Big Picture: Restoring the Southeastern United States." To have conference materials sent, call Tiffany Gann at 305-256-8111 and leave a message with your address or visit: http://www4.ncsu.edu/unity/users/s/shear/ser/coastalplain.htm

GreenSweep Volunteer Workdays in the Keys. Sponsored by The Nature Conservancy: March 3, Key West Botanical Gardens; April 7, Anne’s Beach (Lower Matecumbe); May 5, scout camps on West Summerland Key. Call 305-289-9060 for details.

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CHAPTER VOLUNTEER WORKDAYS

February 17 (Sat.), 8:30 - noon. Everglades National Park Visitor Center landscaping workday and swamp walk. Please call Carrie (305-661-9023) if you plan to attend. Our first workday on January 20 was a rousing success. Forty volunteers (ages 4 to 83!) from the chapter and FIU removed grass, installed rocks and planted and mulched pines in the "pineland restoration" areas in front of the visitor center. The remaining grass and weeds will be killed with Roundup before the next workday when we will plant saw palmettos and other shrubs, install more rocks, spread pine needle mulch on the entire area, and remove exotics near the building. Bring: gloves, whatever tools you can (shovel, pick, digging bar, wheelbarrow), sun protection. Refreshments (including fixings for peanut butter sandwiches) provided. Helpful family members of all ages are welcome.

Post-workday (dry) swamp walk: Last-month’s after-workday entertainment was seeing the feeding frenzy on cold-killed fish by birds along the Anhinga Trail. This month, park ranger Alan Scott (coordinator for our landscaping project) will lead a 2-hour nature walk along a line of gator holes and small cypress domes in the middle of Taylor Slough. This is an area near the visitor center, south of Royal Palm, where the public does not usually go. There will not be much water except if you choose to wade through the gator holes, but wear long pants, closed shoes and socks for walking through saw grass prairie, water or mud. Carry drinks (eat lunch before the walk begins). Your attendance at the workday will be your family’s free ticket into the park on this day.

Pineland plants needed! In late April or May (and ongoing), we will start planting wildflowers and other herbaceous species in our pineland restorations. We need members to propagate these, as well as pineland shrubs, preferably in a sterile medium. We will plant from very small containers (4" - 1 gallon). If you can grow plants for us or have seeds/volunteers to share, please call Carrie (305-661-9023) or Patty (305-255-6404).

March 3 (Sat.), 9 a.m.-noon. Restoration of Bear Cut Preserve. Please call Patty (305-255-6404) if you expect to come. We would like to continue our support of this project, begun with last year’s chapter workday, by again assisting with planting, exotic removal and trail maintenance. Bear Cut Preserve is an essential component of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Nature Center (the new facility is expected to open around April 7, Marjory’s birthday) and the outdoor education of most Dade County school children. MSD Nature Center board member (and DCFNPS member) Chris Landsea is assisting in directing the restoration. Wear/bring: closed shoes, long pants, sun protection, gloves. Tools are provided, or bring your own. Directions: Enter the North Entrance of Crandon Park, tell the attendant that you are going to the workday, and head to the north end of the parking lot. Look for the group down the nature trail. Friends and family (children whose safety you can supervise) are welcome!

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PORTERWEEDS REVISITED

by Roger L. Hammer

It recently came to my attention that certain Florida Native Plant Society chapters are continuing to sell the non-native species of porterweeds (Stachytarpheta spp.) at their plant sales. So I thought that I should revisit this group of plants in case there is still some misunderstanding out there in Native Plant Land. Telling the native species from the exotic species isn't all that difficult. Our native blue porterweed, Stachytarpheta jamaicensis is a low-growing, plant with branches that typically spread horizontally from a short central stem. The height of the plant, not counting the bloom spikes, averages about 6-10" high, sometimes mounding. The leaves are coarsely toothed and the teeth generally point toward the tip. The leaves are dull green or sometimes with a purplish blush. Small blue flowers are produced either singly or 2-3 in a cluster on a thickened spike to 12" long or more, somewhat resembling a rat's tail (it is called "rat tail" in the Bahamas). Individual flowers last a single day.

A commonly cultivated exotic species, and one that is often touted as native to Florida, is nettleleaf vervain, Stachytarpheta urticifolia. It is native to tropical Asia. Nearly all other species are from the Americas. This plant has an upright, shrubby growth habit to about 5' tall. The leaves are dark green, more finely toothed than our native species, and the teeth are more numerous and outward-pointing. The leaves also have a distinct quilted appearance on the upper surface. The flower spikes are narrower than on S. jamaicensis, the flowers are slightly smaller, and are distinctly darker blue with a white center. Individual flowers last a single day.

Another commonly cultivated species is pink porterweed, Stachytarpheta mutabilis, a native of South America. This species has a shrubby, somewhat sprawling growth habit to about 7' tall. It has light green, pubescent leaves that are larger than the previous two species, ranging to about 4" long and 2" wide. The thick flower spikes bear 3-12 or more light pink to bright rosy pink flowers that last for several days each. There is also a violet-flowered variety of S. mutabilis called var. violacea, and both have even made it into the garden shops of Home Depot and K-Mart. Here's a big part of the problem: in the book The Guide to Florida Wildflowers by Walter Kingsley Taylor (Taylor Publishing Company, Dallas, TX, 1992), the photo that accompanies the description for blue porterweed, Stachytarpheta jamaicensis, is actually S. urticifolia, the exotic species. In the recently published book Your Florida Guide to Butterfly Gardening: A Guide for the Deep South by Jaret C. Daniels (University Press of Florida, Gainesville, FL, 2000), there is a photo labeled "Porter Weed," and the photo is correctly identified as Stachytarpheta urticifolia. I thought that someone had finally gotten it right until I read the text that states, "perennial; native, cultivar." I don't know where the author got the "cultivar" part because this is not a cultivated variety. And, as stated before, it's not native; it's an exotic species from tropical Asia. To make matters worse, there are hybrids of our native S. jamaicensis and the exotic S. urticifolia. The hybrid looks similar to S. jamaicensis but has an upright growth habit from 2-3' tall. This hybrid is called S. x intercedens, and it does occur in Florida, especially where the two parents grow in close proximity to each other. Just what we need.

[Roger Hammer is the naturalist of Miami-Dade Park and Recreation Department's Castellow Hammock Park].

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EVERYBODY, GUMBO LIMBO MON!

--by Jeff Wasielewski

The Gumbo Limbo, Bursera simaruba, is the reigning beauty queen of the native plant world. Its glossy leaves and beautiful, red, peeling bark make the Gumbo Limbo a showstopper on any hammock hike. To stumble upon the early morning sun reflecting off of the trunk of a mature Gumbo, is heaven indeed. The tree stands fifty feet at maturity and can have a trunk of three feet wide.

The wood of the Gumbo Limbo has been used for everything from matches to carousel horses before plastics and molds became popular. The common name comes from the African Bantu language and means "big shiny tree used for carving carousel horses"; well, we don’t really know what it means, but I bet it is something like that. The leaves were also once used to make a tea, which in combination with a tea from the Lignum Vitae, was used to treat "weakness in men." I’m sure the tea worked wonderfully, but modern times have replaced it with protein shakes and daily trips to the gym.

The Gumbo Limbo makes a perfect addition to any home landscape provided you have the space. Remember when you plant a tree, to give the it the space it will need in years to come, not just for the present. The Gumbo is a great starter tree if you are just beginning to build a landscape because of its fast growth rate. I planted four ten-inch seedlings in my yard 18 months ago and they are now between 10 and 14 feet tall with four-inch trunks. If you are going to plant a tree, I recommend a tree from seed rather than a tree propagated by cuttings. Gumbo Limbo is famous for the ease in which cut branches root. I have taken a three-foot by 10-inch trunk and planted it with success. I eventually removed that tree in favor of a tree grown from seed. Trees grown from seed have better root systems than trees from cuttings. When a tree is grown from seed, the first thing it does is produce a large taproot. This root is used for storage and anchorage and is not found on trees grown from cuttings. Trees grown from seed also tend to have a better branch structure than trees from cuttings. Cutting grown trees tend to grow very tall, very fast and tend to have fewer limbs than trees from seed.

If you are in the market for a Gumbo Limbo, many nurseries grow and sell this tree. When buying from a nursery, be sure to ask if the tree is grown from seed or cutting and make sure the root system of the tree you are buying has not been overly constricted by the growing container. Trees that are in containers for too long develop a condition known as root-binding or bench-rooting. When this occurs, the tap-root is forced to wrap around itself because of the small size of the container. This leads to a weak root system and a weak tree. Another factor to consider when purchasing a tree is the size of the tree. Because of the Gumbo’s quick growth rate, a small tree will quickly become a large tree and one should consider the benefits of the smaller tree. A smaller tree is easier to plant and transport. A smaller tree has less of a chance of getting root-bound. A small tree will also be cheaper than a large one.

Another way to get a Gumbo Limbo into your garden is to grow it yourself. The Gumbo readily produces seed, which can be harvested and grown. Growing from seeds is tricky, however, because the fruit are small and inconspicuous and hang on the tree a long time before they are mature. I grow all of my Gumbos from volunteer trees that I find growing in landscapes. Small seedlings can be easily uprooted and replanted in a container until they are large enough to plant out. Look for Gumbo seedlings near mature Gumbos. The MDCC Kendall campus parking lot is a great place to start. Make sure you never take seedlings from natural areas as this is illegal and disturbs the next generation of mighty Gumbos. If you decide to grow a Gumbo from a found seedling, remove the seedling gently with a trowel or small shovel. Be sure to keep the tap-root intact. Place a moist paper towel around the roots of the seedling and then place it in a Ziploc bag. Keep the bag in shade until you can plant the seedling in a container. If you are growing more than one tree, they can all be grown in the same container until they are older and moved into individual containers. The soil should be well draining. Water the container if the plants become too dry and grow in dappled sunlight. If the roots begin to fill the container, it is time for a new container. Once the seedlings reach 10-12 inches they are ready to plant out in your yard. Try to match your planting date with the beginning of South Florida’s wet season, around June 1.

The Gumbo Limbo is a fantastic South Florida native. I encourage you to seek out this native tree and many more by venturing out and taking a short, or long, hike in the woods. Now is a great time of year to visit the great outdoors because heat and mosquitoes are in short supply.

[Jeff Wasielewski is the Assistant Curator of Tropical Fruit at Fairchild Tropical Garden]

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2001 FNPS ANNUAL CONFERENCE

Diversity and Development: Striking a Balance
The 21st Annual Conference of the
Florida Native Plant Society

The first rule of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts. — Aldo Leopold

Thursday - Sunday, May 10 - 13, 2001
Westin Innisbrook Resort, Palm Harbor

Hosted by the Pinellas Chapter of FNPS
727-544-7341 /www.fnps.org /jbuhrman@aol.com

Call for papers, posters. Please respond with title and one-line description by November 14. Abstracts due by January 26. Notification of acceptance by February 15. Please contact Judith Buhrman for more information: jbuhrman@aol.com or (727)-398-3799, or 6123 113 St. #504, Seminole, FL 33772.

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KEY CONTACTS FOR DCFNPS:

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 editors: Patty Phares (305-255-6404 or pphares@mindspring.com) and Jeff Wasielewski

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

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