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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In This Issue



Tuesday, Sept 24, 7:30 p.m. at Fairchild Tropical Garden, 10901 Old Cutler Road.

"Rationale, Methodology and Interpretation of Host Range Tests in Weed Biological Control: Brazilian Peppertree Case Study" — Dr. James P. Cuda, University of Florida.

Meetings are free and open to the public.

Dr. Cuda will speak about his research on biological control of Brazilian pepper and testing threatened and endangered native plant species as part of the risk assessment process. He is an assistant professor in the Entomology and Nematology Department at the University of Florida, Gainesville, and a consultant to the University's Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants. His research deals with biological control of aquatic and terrestrial weeds, including foreign exploration, host specificity testing, and release/evaluation of promising natural enemies of exotic weeds that have invaded Florida and threaten the southeastern United States. He is developing an extension program on biological control of insect pests and weeds in Florida.

Thanks in advance to refreshment donors: Michelle Davis, Ivan Felton, Aileen Salokar, Patty Harris (snacks) and Sam Dawson (drinks and ice). Your additions to the refreshment and raffle table are appreciated. Plants will be again for sale!

Upcoming meetings:

October 22: "Conservation of South Florida's Rare and Endangered Species" — Joyce Maschinski, incoming Conservation Ecologist /Team Leader at Fairchild Tropical Garden.

November 26: "Geologic perspectives of tree islands of the Everglades" — Dr. Kevin Cunningham, geologist with the US Geological Survey. Gwladys Scott will give a brief introduction to South Florida geology.

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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! Call Patty for more information or carpooling (from Dade). If the weather is very bad, call to confirm before leaving home.

Saturday, September 28: Two preserves in the City of Boca Raton. Sugar Sand Park is 132 acres of mostly scrub and scrubby flatwoods with trails. Serenoa is a xeric oak hammock. We hope to see some of the fall wildflowers of dry areas as well as habitats which not typical of Dade County.

Sunday, October 27: Turner River Road, Collier County. Hike through dry or wet prairie and pine flatwoods, maybe cypress domes and other habitats.

Saturday, November 23: Torchwood Hammock Preserve on Little Torch Key and Big Pine Key. We will complete our November, 2001, trip cut short by Hurricane Michelle.

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Note: All Dade Chapter members are welcome at all chapter activities. To receive personal notification of Keys activities or for more information, please contact Lisa Gordon (ledzep@keysconnection.com) (or Jim Duquesnel (305-451-1202 or jandj.Duquesnel@mindspring.com). Leave your name, phone/fax number, or email address.

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DCFNPS landscaping project, Everglades National Park Coe Visitor Center: October 19 and December 14.

On Saturday, October 19, 9 a.m. - noon, we will do a little of everything. Please come help and enjoy the camaraderie. Bring sun protection, mosquito repellant, gloves and tools (shovels and pruning tools). We'll supply drinks and snacks (volunteers to bring refreshments are welcome -- DCFNPS can reimburse). Gloves, spray and trowels are available for those who need them. Students can earn Community Service hours. Please contact Carrie or Patty if you expect to come (see contacts list).

Miami-Dade Park & Recreation Dept. NAM workdays.

Natural Areas Management (NAM) workdays are held on numerous Saturdays between September and May, 9:00-noon. Assist in the restoration of a natural area by removing exotic plants, planting seedlings, or picking up trash. Wear closed toe shoes and long pants. Call 305-257-0904 for more information and instructions for students desiring service hours. The chapter will try to form a team for the December 7 at Castellow Hammock Park.

Early fall schedule: 9/28, Rockdale Pineland (SW 92 Ave at 145 St.); 10/5, Bill Sadowski Park (SW 176 St. at 79 Ave. ); 10/12, Little George Hammock (Country Walk Drive at approximately SW 150 Ave.).

Saturday, November 16, Boy Scouts nature day:

Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts of Dade and Monroe Counties will be developing an appreciation for nature at a special event at Markham Park in North Dade. Chapter member Robin Luker would like our help with activities to spark an interest in nature -- in large and small ways. Volunteers will make very short presentations to kids 9 to 11 years old, with the help of older boys, from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m.. If you can help but don't know what to do, Robin can supply ideas. Please call him as soon as possible at 305-261-8441.

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Dade 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 plant ID and taxonomy. Call Steve Woodmansee (305-247-6547) or Roger Hammer (305-242-7688). September 17 topic: liatris and solidagos.

Broward Native Plant Workshop. 3rd Wednesdays at 7:30 on the Davie campus main building of Florida Atlantic University (FAU), in the botany lab, room 317. Address: 2912 College Avenue. Contact Jack Lange, (954) 583-0283 or johnp914@aol.com.

Tropical Audubon Society ( 5530 Sunset Drive, 305-666-5111):

The Miami-Dade Adopt-A-Tree program. Free trees (native, fruit, flowering)! Get more information at www.co.miami-dade.fl.us/adoptatree, phone number 305-372-6555, or e-mail adoptatree@miamidade.gov. Sept. 14, Central-West Miami-Dade; Oct. 5, Northeastern Miami-Dade; Oct. 26, South Miami-Dade. DCFNPS members are encouraged to assist.

Gifford Arboretum and UF Extension "Workshops in Horticulture". Sept. 14, Oct. 12, Nov. 16, Dec. 14, Jan. 11 programs on a variety of topics at UM's Gifford Arboretum. Nov. 16: "Invasive Exotic Plants and Trees: What do we know and what should we do?" with Bob Doren, Everglades Restoration ecologist, and Ken Cook of Plant Creations Nursery speaking about alternatives to invasive plants. Workshops may be taking for CEU credits. Fees apply. Call the Extension Service at 305-248-3311 x 227. Also, free public Plant Diagnostic Clinics the same day.

Fairchild Tropical Garden tours and programs:

... and more. Call 305-667-1651 ext. 3322.

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Richard J. Campbell, Fairchild Tropical Garden.

Fruit trees and other non-natives, planted in combination with native species can provide for a diverse, multiple use home landscape compatible with urban South Florida. Such landscapes can provide the home gardener with a bounty of useful fruit and plant products; as well as, enhance the diversity of insect and animal species supported by the home garden. By selecting appropriate plants and compatible combinations, the use of irrigation, chemical inputs and other monetary and environmental expenses can be minimized. In South Florida, due to our superior genetic resources, we have at our disposal a wide array of superior native and non-native fruit and landscape plants. By incorporating both native and non-native plants into the home landscape and adopting appropriate horticultural techniques for their management, a landscape can be developed that provides the maximum benefit to the home gardener and contributes to a healthy and sustainable environment.

Preliminary assumptions.

The home gardener who incorporates both native and non-native plant species should consider some preliminary assumptions which will be critical to the establishment and long-term maintenance of a healthy, functional landscape. A permanent irrigation system is not necessary. However, careful attention must be given to the environmental conditions of the home garden and the grouping of plant species. Often irrigation may be necessary for the initial establishment of trees, or at specific periods of the fruiting cycle, for example, but these needs can be addressed by non-permanent or on-demand systems. There is no basis for the belief that non-native species as a whole have a greater water requirement than native species, if the proper non-native species are chosen. Also, it should not be assumed that inputs of chemical pesticides and fungicides will be necessary to have a fruitful and productive native/non-native home garden. By planting a diverse landscape, the need for chemical controls can be reduced or eliminated. Overall, an understanding of seasonal patterns of rainfall, temperatures, and plant ecology must be considered in the maintenance of the successful landscape. For example, there will be leaf loss during dry periods and visible signs of water stress; yet, it is this stress that will trigger a proper bloom on fruit and flowering trees.

Selection of appropriate plant species.

The key to the successful integration of both native and non-native plant species is the selection of the appropriate plants and combinations. We are fortunate in South Florida to have an economical source of quality native and non-native plant species locally available through commercial plant nurseries. Previous authors have provided detailed lists and descriptions of the most reliable and useful non-native fruit and flowering trees appropriate for the South Florida home garden (Campbell and Goldweber, 1974; Maxwell and Maxwell, 1967; Morton, 1974). These publications should not be used to the exclusion of other appropriate non-natives for South Florida landscapes, as there are new alternatives each year. Species selection rests ultimately with the home gardener, who must weigh the value of each species in relation to the available planting area. These publications do; however, offer general guidance for the selection of reliable fruiting or flowering trees.

Horticultural management.

Regardless of the species selected, the horticultural management of the tree will be key to the successful combination of the native and non-native components of the home landscape. The water requirements of the species should be a major consideration. An excess or lack of water will have a major impact on the flowering and/or fruiting of non-native species. Fortunately, South Florida natives and many non-native fruit and flowering trees are adapted to a monsoon climate, with a distinctive wet and dry season. The dry period coincides with blooming and the wet season with the development of the fruit. Thus, the combination of mango (Mangifera indica L.) or avocado (Persea americana Miller) trees with mixed native shrubs and small trees fits well, given that the former are managed for size control and the proper light environment beneath their canopy. Pruning can be used to manage canopy spread and thickness, but the ultimate size potential of each species and canopy type should be considered. For example, Lysiloma latisiliqua or Quercus virginiana can provide a protective, diffuse canopy that offers some cold and wind protection for tender plants, including fruit and flowering trees. These trees remain healthy and productive under such a canopy given the proper management, especially if selective canopy thinning is used to allow light gaps. Pruning will be an essential tool for controlling the size of all trees, native and non-native, and will provide an essential element for the successful home garden. With proper pruning, trees can be grouped into mixed native/non-native landscapes in increased density, while maintaining their use and productivity.

Benefits of native/non-native landscapes.

Fruit and plant products. Basic to the incorporation of fruit trees with native species is the production of fruit and their products for home consumption. This affords home gardeners with a most enviable task of choosing just what they want to place into the home garden. In South Florida we are fortunate that we can produce many fruit not commercially available, or that may be prohibitively expensive. The production of fruit from the home garden can thus represent a significant savings and improvement in the quality of life. Home garden fruit and their products may be of superior quality when compared to commercially available fruit and products. Also, because all aspects of their production is controlled by the home gardener, there is a confidence in the safety and/or health risks associated with the products.

Aesthetics/quality of life issues. The marriage of native and non-native plants within the home landscape can be key in achieving the maximum aesthetic benefit from the home landscape. Flowering and fruit trees provide an element of beauty in color and form that can effectively complement a purely native landscape. Both flowering and fruit trees have a cultural connection for home gardeners; that is, a connection with one's cultural roots or a connection with past experiences. These cultural connections can be extremely powerful in the case of fruit such as mango. Their significance can extend to religious and ceremonial importance as well.

Diversity of Fauna. A home garden landscape that incorporates both native and non-native species can provide a superior environment for animal life of all types. The combination of many species, both native and non-native, provides alternate hosts for predatory insects integral to the maintenance of a health balance within the home landscape. When using such landscape schemes that combine native and non-native elements, and by exercising patience and a knowledge of biological systems, insect infestations can be left to their natural cycles. There will be outbreaks of scale, white fly, and aphids, but the predators present on the other species within the home garden can efficiently move in and control the outbreak. The same plant growing in a less diverse plant landscape is likely to experience a longer, and potentially more serious outbreak. By increasing the diversity of the home garden, there will also be a significant positive impact on the number and diversity of pollinating insects, which benefits both the non-native and native species. The use of non-native species in combination with natives can also serve to increase food sources and habitats for all manners of wildlife within the home garden. Ripening and fallen fruit provide an important food source for both insects and larger animals within the home landscape, and by mixing many species, a food supply can be maintained over an extended period. Non-natives can provide additional habitat for a wide range of birds, tree snails, lizards, snakes and squirrels, to name a few.


This work presents the benefits associated with home garden landscapes incorporating both non-native and native plant species. Some may argue that the inclusion of non-native species from diverse genetic backgrounds poses risks of genetic contamination and ultimately degradation of the environment. However, it must be considered that in an urban landscape, such as South Florida, the needs of the human in this environment cannot be ignored. Throughout the entire history of plant cultivation, non-native plants have provided important contributions to the quality of life. Home gardeners in South Florida are presented with a unique pallette of fruit, flowering trees and other ornamentals for home garden cultivation. The human need for aesthetic pleasures and cultural connections can be compatibly meshed with the increased use of native plants in home landscapes, forming a compatible system for the home landscape in South Florida. If done properly, the benefit can be considerable.

Literature Cited

Campbell, C.W. and S. Goldweber. 1974. Fruit Plants for Southern Florida. Dade County Coop. Ext. Service. Fruit Crops Mimeo 1.

Maxwell, L.S and B.M. Maxwell. 1967. Florida Fruit. Lewis S. Maxwell, Publisher. Tampa, FL.

Morton, J.F. 1974. 500 Plants of South Florida. E.A. Seemann Publishing, Inc., Miami, FL.

[The above article was previously published in the Florida State Horticultural Society, 2001. Dr. Richard Campbell is Senior Curator of Tropical Fruit at Fairchild Tropical Garden Research Center, 11935 Old Cutler Rd., Miami, FL 33156.]

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[Editor's note: The landscape architect firm Geomantic Design received the 1st place award in the Institutional/Professional Design category in the 2001 FNPS "Design With Natives" competition. The award was for the UM Florida Keys Arboretum, designed by Robert Parsley, ASLA, and was presented at the annual conference in March. The following is from the award application. To visit the Keys Arboretum, park in the Ring Theater parking lot on Miller Drive, walk past the back of the theater to the walk along the lake, head right following the lake shore, and look for the planting near Walsh Tower before the canal.]

In 1996, as part of a major campus planning study, the theme of a "campus in a garden" was adopted. The "Florida Keys Arboretum" was the first of these new mini-arboretums to be developed and was planted in the summer of 1997.

The predetermined site was at the southern end of Lake Osceola, between two residential college towers, adjacent to the main brick walk that meanders around the lake. Several site features were immediately obvious: the wind-blown, brackish water spray from the floating fountain, the shade cast by the residential towers, the poorly draining soils (from the lake dredging and/or the tower construction) and the great number of pedestrians passing through the area daily.

The brackish spray was the determining factor in designating the area to be primarily of plants native to the Florida Keys, the lower reaches of Dade County and the Everglades. Being in the center of campus and in a high visibility area, the arboretum had to be a fairly neat and tidy "display garden," not a "wild habitat re-creation". This lead to a series of islands in raised beds (due to poor soils and drainage) with grass paths and prominent labeling, to entice the casual pedestrian off the brick path to explore the natives. The curving of the lake bank and walkway was reflected in the beds.

Within each of the islands, attention was paid to the exposure to salt spray, shade and whether the plant could grow in the same ecosystem. Thus Dade County pines were blended with other dry pineland species such as coontie, Tetrazygia, saw palmetto and gamma grass. The beds were also designed to be ornamental displays, so multiple sizes and masses of palms such as the Pseudophoenix sargentii, Thrinax morrissii and T. radiata were used for dramatic effect and framing views to the lake and fountain.

The soils used in the raised beds were selected to approximate the native conditions whether sandy, coral rock and marl or muck. Each was custom blended from local sources wherever feasible and amended with peat to help water retention the first year.

Watering was tricky. We wanted to keep good sod paths for the aesthetics but needed adequate water to get the new plants established. Thus irrigation lines were located in the sod areas, with large spray heads to over throw into the native islands and mini-jets and bubblers on the B&B trees and palms. As different areas became established, the spray heads were reduced from full heads and the bubblers were removed. After two years, only the sod is being irrigated.

The native area has only required minor trimming and plant replacement in spite of two tropical storms. We have learned where it is too shady for gamma grass, too marly for Hymenocallis, and where soil or drainage are problems. Native and exotic insects, birds and reptiles have ventured in to live (from the atala butterfly on the coontie to large Cuban anoles.) The coral rock boulders from campus construction sites for mounting plant labels have been adopted for campus wide use.

This first mini-arboretum has been such a success with the teaching faculty, students and local plant enthusiasts that the University accelerated its arboretum program. The Florida Keys Arboretum was the first step in starting a teaching oriented "campus in a garden."

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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: Jerry Russo

DCFNPS e-mail: DadeChFNPS@juno.com

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