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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January 2002

In This Issue

NECKLACE POD, Sophora tomentosa L. by Roger Hammer


Tuesday, January 22, 7:30 p.m. at Fairchild Tropical Garden, 10901 Old Cutler Road. [4th Tuesday — not the last!]

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Katy Sorenson will speak about a variety of environmental issues faced by the commission. Thanks in advance to refreshment donors: Karsten Rist (drinks and ice); and Toby Davidow, Allyn Golub, Steve Levine (snacks). Additions to the refreshment or plant raffle table are appreciated!

Upcoming meetings:

February 26: Joyce and Don Gann will talk about various aspects of native plants and their culture useful to the home gardener.

March 26: Dr. Evelyn Gaiser of Florida International University will speak about periphyton in the Everglades.

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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, January 26: Jane’s Grade, Big Cypress Seminole Reservation. We will walk through pine flatwoods, wet prairie, cypress and perhaps hammock habitats. The area abuts the Big Cypress Expansion area. While much of the reservation is heavily used as cattle pasture, farming and housing, this area is natural except for the regional drainage controlled by the SFWMD. Bill Dunson, a water resources manager for the Seminole Tribe, has graciously invited us to visit.

Sunday, February 24: Snake Bight Trail and the Flamingo area, Everglades National Park. Last winter we walked the Coastal Prairie Trail, and this year we will cover some of the other interesting trails in the area and check out the stunning improvement from Brazilian pepper removal in the Flamingo area.

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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, or Lisa Gordon (email ledzep@keysconnection.com).

Friday, January 11, 6:30 PM: Joint meeting with the Florida Audubon Society at the Key Largo Library, MM 101.5 (Tradewinds Plaza, near Publix). Monica Woll will present a slide show, "Hiking the Appalachian Trail, Maine to Georgia".

Saturday, January 12: Field trip to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Meet at the Visitor Center at 9 AM. The entrance fee will be waived, but donations are appreciated. Jim Duquesnel will lead this easy hammock walk and botanizing around the historic Shaw lime grove.

February (date TBA, 19th or earlier): Monthly meeting at the Islamorada Library. Janice Duquesnel will present "Saving the Mahogany Mistletoe and Other Keys Rarities". Please contact Jim or Lisa for more information.

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Mark your calendars now to volunteer for, attend, or send your neighbors to Native Plant Day on March 9, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.. This is our chapter’s annual public event where plant enthusiasts can learn about natives for their own gardens and in natural areas, while enjoying a day in the park -- for free. The event is will again be at Castellow Hammock Park, 22301 SW 162 Avenue, and is cosponsored by Miami-Dade Park and Recreation Department. Please start spreading the word to your workplace and neighborhood. More information will soon be available on our web site A flier will also be enclosed in the February Tillandsia.

Topics of programs and displays include attracting birds and butterflies with native plants; how to plant and maintain natives; planting a hammock; native palms, trees, shrubs and wildflowers; wildflower gardening; plant identification; Dade's natural areas; invasive exotic plants; use of natives by indigenous people; native ferns; and more. There will also be children's nature activities; walking tours of the hammock and butterfly garden (also in Spanish); birding walks; bicycle tours of the historic Redland (fee required); demonstrations of WEB resources; native plant vendors; a members’ "flea market" with books, artwork, and gardening items; and raffles.

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Saturday, February 2, 9:00: In preparation for Native Plant Day, the chapter will assist Roger Hammer in planting a butterfly and hummingbird garden (of mostly native plants) at Castellow Hammock (22301 SW 162 Avenue). Much of the work will be fairly easy — planting, mulching, watering (a bit harder if you dig holes), but we need plenty of help. Roger needs donations of native shrubs and herbaceous plants for this garden. If you would like a species list, have plants to donate or can help with the planting, please call Patty (305-255-6404). Call Roger (305-242-7688) with plant questions.

Saturday, February 9, 9:00-noon: Everglades National Park Visitors Center landscaping project, TENTATIVE DATE (please reconfirm). Please contact Carrie (305-661-9023) or Patty (305-255-6404, if you can come. We will plant a few things in the pinelands, do some quick weeding, and start preparing the area to plant new hammock trees and shrubs in the spring. Bring shovels, digging tools, pruning tools, gloves, sun protection. Snacks provided.

If you haven’t seen the project lately, you’ll be pleased with how great an improvement YOU have made to a National Park in one year. Carrie reports that after the last workday on December 8, several chapter members encountered a group from a native wildflower group in Palm Beach County who were planting royal palms at the Royal Palm visitor center. They had grown the palms from seed over the last five years. They were full of compliments about our work — and we now return the praise.

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Broward Chapter FNPS meetings: 2nd Tuesdays at Secret Woods Nature Center, 2701 W State Road 84, just west of I-95. Social time 7PM, program at 7:30PM. Call Ann, 954-523-0288.

Tropical Audubon Society. Doc Thomas House, 5530 Sunset Dr. 305-666-5111. January 15 meeting: Jerry Lorenz, a biologist at the Audubon office in Tavernier will discuss the roseate spoonbills of Florida Bay. Program at 8 pm, social at 7:30. Free and open to the public. Sunday, Jan. 20, Feb. 17, 9 a.m. to noon - Tour the Botanical Garden at the Tropical Audubon Society. David Lysinger, native plant expert and Botanical Garden architect, will lead a FREE tour from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM. Learn about our botanical heritage and visit the historic garden. Call 305 666-8074 for more information. [www.tropicalaudubon.org]

Miami-Dade Parks Natural Areas Management workdays, 9AM-noon. Call 305-257-0904. Jan. 26, Feb. 2, Feb. 9, Mar. 2 — Kendall Indian Hammock Park (11345 SW 79 St. — you can get there from SW 107 or 117 Ave., north of Kendall ). See article on SPUDBUSTERS in a future issue with the story on efforts to eradicate the air potato at this park (the object of these workdays).

Native Plant Workshop. 3rd Tuesdays at Bill Sadowski Park, 1/2 mile west of Old Cutler Road on SW 176 Street, 7 PM. Study of South Florida plant ID and taxonomy. Call Steve Woodmansee (305-247-6547) or Roger Hammer (305-242-7688). January 15 topic: coastal plants.

The Nature Conservancy of the Florida Keys Cleansweep workdays: Jan. 5 — Curry Hammocks State Park — pitch out Brazilian pepper and Lead tree in the largest uninhabited natural habitat between Key Largo and Big Pine Key. Feb. 2 — Restoration planting at Cocoplum Beach, an important sea turtle nesting spot. Contact Alison Higgins (305-745-8402 ext.111 or ahiggins@tnc.org)

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NECKLACE POD, Sophora tomentosa L.

by Roger Hammer

Are you looking for a butterfly- and hummingbird-attracting native shrub that is drought-tolerant, salt-tolerant, sun-loving, and trouble-free? Well, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that Necklace Pod, Sophora tomentosa, fills the bill for all of the above requirements. It is an exceptional hummingbird attractor, and these small feathered jewels will aggressively defend their territory around a flowering Necklace Pod. Not only that, they often perch on the flowering stems in between feeding on nectar from the flowers or chasing away other hummingbirds. Butterflies also visit the flowers for nectar, especially skippers.

The bad news is that if you already have this colorful shrub in your home landscape, or if you plan on rushing out to your nearest native plant nursery to buy one, your chances of having or obtaining the Florida native variety of this widespread species are pretty remote. Botanists Keith Bradley and George Gann have studied the scientific literature and determined that the hairy plant in cultivation is the variety occidentalis, native to the West Indies.

The leaves, especially the new growth, of occidentalis are covered with soft, silvery hairs that give the leaves an overall fuzzy appearance. The native variety, var. truncata, is nearly glabrous and seldom seen in cultivation. To add to the bad news, Keith informed me that he has found the exotic variety escaping cultivation. The jury is still out whether or not the two varieties can hybridize and produce intermediate forms.

You can see both varieties on Key Biscayne in Crandon Park. The exotic variety has been planted around the Biscayne Nature Center and along the Hammock Trail to the north of the center. If you walk north along the trail that parallels the dunes (east of the Hammock Trail) you will eventually encounter a small foot trail leading to the beach. Along this trail is a fine specimen of the native variety and there are others growing naturally on the north end of the park as well.

Now I must admit to adding to the menagerie. A couple of years ago my wife, Lisa, went on an excursion to Polynesia. While on the small island of Rarotonga, she collected a few seeds of Sophora tomentosa that she described as "a Necklace Pod on steroids". I planted two of them in my yard and, indeed, they are much larger overall. The flowers are dark yellow and twice the size of what I am used to seeing on Florida plants. I gave the third specimen to Keith Bradley, who has it growing in his yard. We have yet to determine which variety it represents.

The yellow, pealike flowers of Necklace Pod are on long, terminal stems and are produced mostly in the fall but may appear off and on all year. Typically the plant has multiple stems arising from the roots and will reach about 6 feet tall. It thrives on neglect and will tolerate salty ocean spray, so it is a good choice for coastal plantings. A word of caution is necessary because the small seeds, which are poisonous to eat, are produced in pendent pods that constrict around each seed, giving the appearance of a necklace. This caution is offered to those of you who have small children and are concerned about plants with poisonous properties. The spent flowering spikes can be pruned off to avoid fruit set if this is a concern.

So, anyway, there’s the good and bad news about this very ornamental species. Perhaps some enterprising native plant nurseryperson will begin propagating the Florida native variety so it can be represented in native plantings, both public and private.

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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: Carrie Cleland (305-661-9023)

Vice President: Tony Koop (tkoop@fig.cox.miami.edu)

DCFNPS e-mail: DadeChFNPS@juno.com

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

Webmaster: Greg Ballinger

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

FNPS Eco Action Alert List: send email request to info@fnps.org

FNPS (state) phone: 561-462-0000

Tillandsia editors:

Patty Phares (305-255-6404, pphares@mindspring.com

Co-editor: VACANT — please apply

The Dade Chapter Florida Native Plant Society is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to the understanding and preservation of Florida's native flora and natural areas, and promoting native plants in landscapes.

The chapter includes residents of Miami-Dade County and the Keys. Meetings in Miami-Dade County are on the 4th Tuesday of each month except June, August and December at Fairchild Tropical Garden and are free and open to the public. In June, members and their guests are invited to an evening garden tour on the 4th Tuesday. Meetings in the Keys are held on a varying schedule of dates and locations from Key Largo to Key West. The basic FNPS membership (state and chapter) is $25 per year. Please contact DCFNPS for a membership application.

Please send articles, announcements of local activities and news of interest to the Dade Chapter PO Box or email to the editor (above) by the 15th of each month to be considered for publication the following month. Advertising rates from $10/month.

© 1999-2002 Dade Chapter Florida Native Plant Society, Inc.

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