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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MAY, 2003

In This Issue


The Legislature is right at your fingertips www.leg.state.fl.us


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

Native Lawn Weeds of South Florida - Steve Woodmansee, Institute for Regional Conservation

Some lawn weeds are actually interesting or pretty native plants which may even have value for wildlife. Steve will show slides of some of the common native lawn weeds and discuss their identification and characteristics. Please bring in examples from your yard and attach a blank label (any paper) to each with string or tape so we can write its name (you can write it if you already know). You don't need to know in advance if it's native. Try to bring a whole plant - roots and all - or at least a whole stem with all its leaves, flowers or fruit if present. Put it in a plastic bag if necessary.

Steve is a biologist with the Institute for Regional Conservation where he has worked for more than six years on research and preservation of South Florida's flora. A Dade County native, he graduated from UM with a degree in biology. He is co-author of The Rare Plants of South Florida: Their History, Conservation and Restoration (2002) with his colleagues George Gann and Keith Bradley. Steve is also our new chapter president, co-chair of the Native Plant Workshop, Dade Chapter representative to the state FNPS board of directors, and proud buddy of native Dade County pooches, Dusty and Lily.

Thanks in advance to refreshment donors: Mike and Ileana Collazo, Kristy Mayo, Bob Kelley, Jennifer Possley (snacks), and Mary Barfield (drinks and ice). Additions to the refreshments and raffle table are also appreciated.

Upcoming meetings. June 24: Annual evening summer solstice evening yard visit and social (not at Fairchild). Details in the June Tillandsia. Please note: The yard visit is for FNPS members and their guests only - a good reason to join!

July 22: Ecology and flora of Everglades tree islands, Tiffany Troxler Gann, FIU.

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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.

Sunday, May 18: North Key Largo. We will walk through hammocks and former pinelands where we expect to see some rare plants along with other interesting Keys flora.

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All chapter members are invited to all chapter activities. To receive personal notification of Keys Group 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.

Next meeting: May 12: "Key Bees". Mike Spann of Keys Bees will speak about bee keeping, bees' preferences in native plants and the resulting varieties of honey. Location: Methodist Church at 280 Key Deer Blvd. on Big Pine Key. The plant ID workshop will begin at 7 pm, followed by the program at 7:30, refreshments and native plant raffle.

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It's the beginning of the rainy season, and time to get new plants in the ground. We have pineland shrubs, wildflowers and hammock trees propagated from ENP seed source. Pines and a new fern bed will be planted, and there is also relocation of leather ferns, plus weeding and mulching to do. New volunteers are encouraged - there is a job for every level of strength. Bring friends and family, also tools if you can (for digging, cutting). Gloves and some small tools are available. Some refreshments will be provided, but you should bring extra liquids. (Volunteers to bring refreshments are needed.) You can also enter the park free after the workday. Please call Carrie (305-523-5730 w) or Patty (305-255-6404) for more information or if you plan to come, so we know how many to expect, or of you could bring some refreshments.

Thanks to Mary Collins of Fairchild Tropical Garden for collecting and propagating seed from ENP. Gene Sanchez also has grown plants from park-collected seed, Don Keller is donating all the ferns, and Gwen Burzycki is donating additional plants. Now we just need you.

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Please see the printed newsletter for some member's only announcements.

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Miami-Dade DERM's Adopt-A-Tree program has started for the 2003 season. Please call the information line at 305-468-5990. After 5 pm and for elderly/handicapper planting, call 305-372-6555. Distributions are scheduled for May 18, June 7, July 26 and later dates. Volunteers who can help should contact Joy Klein, kleinj@miamidade.gov.

Miami-Dade Park & Recreation. Dept. Natural Areas Management (NAM) pine rockland t-shirts are in! Joe Maguire showed us a sample shirt after his program in February. You can purchase one of these beautiful shirts for $15 at the May DCFNPS meeting or by mailing a $15 check (payable to Miami-Dade County) to NAM, attn Magaly, 22200 SW 137 Ave, Goulds, FL 33170. Include your address and size (M, L, XL). Your shirt and a receipt will be mailed to you.

Dade Native Plant Workshop. 3rd Tuesdays at 7 p.m., Bill Sadowski Park, 1/2 mile west of Old Cutler Road on SW 176 Street. Study of plant ID and taxonomy. Call Steve Woodmansee (305-247-6547) or Roger Hammer (305-242-7688). May 20 topic: Gentianaceae (Gentian family).

Broward Native Plant Workshop. 3rd Wednesdays at 7:30 Address: Room 204B, UF's Agriculture Research and Education Center, 3205 College Ave., Davie. Contact: Chuck McCartney, 954-922-9747. May 21 topic: Lawn weeds.

Tropical Audubon Society ( 5530 Sunset Drive, 305-666-5111), ww.tropicalaudubon.org for more info and activities.

Greensweep Volunteer Workdays in the Keys. First Saturdays, 9 - noon. Call The Nature Conservancy at 305-745-8402. June 7: West Summerland Key. Plant natives and have a cookout at the Scout camps to celebrate the end of the project by the Florida Keys Invasive Exotics Task Force, ongoing since 1997.

TREEmendous Miami invites new volunteers for tree planting projects. Call Amy Creekmur, 305-378-1863, or Gary Hunt, 305-674-9403, for more details or visit www.treemendousmiami.org. May 17: Assist in planting trees for elderly and disabled Adopt-A-Tree recipients. More throughout the summer!

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Over the past decade, there has been a steady interest in creating Japanese-style gardens in the U.S.. Japanese gardens inspire feelings of serenity and are a good way to make a small garden space look larger. Often there is an attempt to represent an entire scene such as a mountain or a stream in a small space. Design emphasis is on shape and placement rather than color. I have read of Japanese gardeners who remove "excess" flowers from plants such as azaleas, because a suggestion of color is preferred to a riot. Many of our native plants naturally provide the perfect balance of subtle color and bloom that Japanese gardeners strive for. Utilizing native plants also honors the "spirit of place" Japanese gardeners revere. We are creating a symbolic representation of nature; shouldn't we use what grows naturally here? Use of native plants will also reduce the maintenance of a Japanese garden reducing the need for chemical fertilizers and pest controls. Utilizing our smaller natives can reduce pruning tasks too.

Here are some simple tips to give a Japanese feel to your garden:

Examine pictures of Japanese gardens for design inspiration. Japanese gardens have distinctive features including paths, lanterns, gates, seating, fountains and other water elements.

Enclose the space. This is a reminder that the garden is its own world, separate from outside reality and cares.

Compose a scene. Japanese gardens suggest rivers, mountain views, or waterfalls. Adapt this concept to what seems natural for South Florida. Perhaps you might want to suggest a pineland or hardwood hammock pathway, or an Everglades scene.

Create a curving path that gives the impression of continuing beyond the view.

Plant and arrange rocks in triangles or groups of five.

Study your negative space. Empty space is as powerful a design element as the items we add.

Utilize our small-scale native trees, shrubs and groundcovers.

Using plants with large-textured leaves in the foreground and small-leafed plants in the background is a technique commonly used to create depth in a Japanese garden. Smaller leaved plants appear to be farther away.

Most importantly, have fun with your garden. Remember, it's your refuge and playground and you can make or break the rules.

Here is a list of some South Florida native plants and what they can bring to your Japanese garden:

Bloodberry, Cordia globosa - Small textured leaves, formal round shape without pruning. It produces tiny flowers and berries and attracts small butterflies.

Satin Leaf, Chrysophyllum oliviforme - For a slightly larger scale garden, this native has a branching structure that has a spreading, yet somewhat open canopy. The leaves are deep green above and velvety rust on the bottom.

Stoppers, Eugenia spp., Myrcianthes spp. - These small, shade tolerant trees thrive in the shade beneath larger trees in a hardwood hammock, but also adapt to sunnier conditions. Groups of stoppers can suggest a large forest in a small space. Their small leaves can also imply that they are further from the viewer than they actually are, giving the illusion of depth to your garden. Interesting bark, occasional flowers and berries are a bonus.

Marlberry, Ardisia escallonioides - This small tree produces clusters of flowers and berries that are showy but unobtrusive. The leaves are larger than most stoppers. This would be a good plant to suggest middle depth in a garden scene viewed from a window.

Quail berry, Crossopetalum ilicifolium - A small, sun-loving groundcover with tiny holly-shaped leaves and red berries. This looks best planted in groups, and would look great around a grouping of rocks you wanted to emphasize. This plant will thrive in places too dry for moss, which accentuates rock in many Japanese gardens.

Pineland Snowberry, Chiococca parvifolia - This small native ground cover has a prostrate weeping form. With small leaves and white berries. When in berry, it makes a decorative ground cover. "Flowing" over or around rocks, it can suggest water.

Wild lime, Zanthoxylum fagara - This shrub can be used in a sunny or shady area. It attracts Giant Swallowtails and is the larval food for their caterpillars. The down side is that it sports thorns. Plant it where you'd like to discourage trespassers. Thorns also provide valuable shelter for small birds.

Pineland privet, Foresteria segregata - This shrub has very small oval leaves, small flowers and small oval fruits. It performs well in poor soil. It shows a lot of branch and bark, which suggests age (revered by the Japanese). It looks as if it will adapt well to formal pruning into a column or would train well as a bonsai.

[Editor's note: Pineland privet, with small leaves and stature, is currently considered them same species as Florida privet, typically a larger plant with larger leaves. However, observations of differences between pineland and non-pineland populations may allow for continue debate. If you can obtain privet grown from a pineland source, you may have a more petite plant.]

Rough Velvetseed, Guettarda scabra - A perfect accent plant that stays small, has a fascinating, sandpaper leaf texture and impressive white, star-shaped flowers followed by half-inch velvety red berries. Plant it somewhere it can be touched and seen.

Sea grape, Coccoloba uvifera -While genetically inclined to become a large, branching tree, sea grape can be pruned into formal shapes and is frequently planted in rows and kept as a low hedge. Its large round leaves make it a perfect plant to use in the foreground of a scene where you are using plants with small-textured leaves in the background to suggest depth.

Slash Pine, Pinus elliottii var.densa - Evergreens are widely used in Japanese gardens. Planted in groups, they suggest stillness and serenity. This South Florida variety is the pine found in Dade County and the Keys.

Silver Palm, Coccothrinax argentata - This slow-growing palmate palm has a silver underside to the leaf. It is more decorative and formal looking than our palmetto. It will stay in scale where you plant it with very little maintenance.

Coontie, Zamia pumila - This interesting native cycad is nearly maintenance-free and looks natural planted in groups. Group planting is also the best way to use this plant to attract Atala butterflies. Use it in the front of your landscape.

White Ironwood, Hypelate trifoliata - This forms a dense, formal, triangular-shaped tree. It looks like a formally pruned Japanese tree without the effort.

Lignum vitae, Guaiacum sanctum - A spectacular native tree with blue flowers. Slow growing, it is ideal for a small garden, especially one in which you are trying to depict a miniature forest or mountain scene, as is typically done in Japanese courtyard gardens.

White indigo berry, Randia aculeata - This native shrub has tiny leaves and small flowers, which are fragrant at night. It can be used at the back of the landscape to suggest depth.

Bitterbush, Picramnia pentandra - Although a dense upright shrub, its leaves suggest a drooping, willowy effect. Here is another low maintenance shrub ideal for small gardens.

Blackbead, Pithecellobium guadalupense - This shrub has an open, spreading habit and produces a flush of attractive mimosa-like off-white flowers. In my yard it attract thorn-bugs, which look like triangular enameled jewels and don't seem to damage the plant. This shrub provides a form that contrasts pleasingly with most other natives. Even a fairly young plant can give a suggestion of age. Old objects are venerated by the Japanese.

Florida gama grass, Tripsacum floridanum - This and other clumping (non-running) grasses are easy to keep contained and good in a small garden.

Wild Coffee, Psychotria nervosa - This shrub has a naturally rounded form, thrives in partial shade and produces white flowers that serve as a nectar source for butterflies as well as red berries that attract birds. It is ideal for all but very small gardens, and is a must-have for the gardener looking to attractive wildlife.

Jamaica Caper, Capparis cynophallophora - This is one of our loveliest small trees. It naturally keeps a formal teardrop form and produces impressive flowers that change color from white to ivory, then pink. It will give the impression that it has been carefully pruned into shape even when you've done nothing to it. If you want to get really fancy, Jamaica caper does take well to topiary-style pruning. (Last I looked, there was an example of the in front of the Coral Gables Country Club.) I personally prefer its natural form.

Spicewood, Calyptranthes pallens - This is another shrub ideal for the small garden, or for suggesting depth when planted in the background of a view. Spicewood has pointed leaves and wonderful small white flowers.

Lancewood, Ocotea coriacea - This 20-30' tree blends in the background much of the year, and then covers itself in masses of white flower clusters, followed by olive-shaped fruits that slowly turn color from green to black. The stems of the fruit are fascinating to observe as they turn from green to yellow, orange and finally red.

Ferns - Native ferns are an ideal ground cover for a shaded garden. Some native ferns, like maidenhair and halberd ferns are interesting enough to create a focal point. When creating a focal point in a Japanese garden, remember that it should look natural, as if it grew there by accident or had been there for ages. In truth, that desultory, accidental effect is caused by your careful planning.

This article aims to start you thinking and dreaming about Japanese gardens and native plants. It is by no means a definitive or how-to guide, and I know of no such guide. To create your own inspired native "Japanese garden", I would suggest that you study native plants and study books on Japanese garden design. With enough familiarity on both topics, you'll start developing your own ideas. You could even copy pictures of Japanese gardens you admire and research native plants that will produce similar effects.

[Diane Otis is the former director of the Miami-Dade Community College Environmental Center and is currently Chairperson of Arts and Sciences at the Homestead Campus of MDCC. She teaches occasional classes on South Florida native plant gardening topics and is a board member of DCFNPS. She and her husband, Greg Ballinger, maintain their own beautiful garden and pineland preserve in South Dade.]

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Dr. Ron Cave's program at the Dade April meeting showed us the interesting (and gory) details of potential biocontrol of the Mexican bromeliad weevil (Metamasius callizona) which is decimating bromeliad populations in parks, refuges and private gardens in South Florida. While it has not been documented in Dade County since Hurricane Andrew, it is nearby and a constant threat. Besides the Mexican bromeliad weevil, there are at least 25 other potential weevil immigrants that could be just as destructive. The native bromeliad weevil, Metamasius mosieri, is not considered a threat. If you have native or non-native bromeliads in your yard or see them on your treks in natural areas, please learn to identify the native and Mexican bromeliad weevil species. The web sites listed below have many photos, and the September, 2002, issue of The Palmetto also has an article.

You can help slow down weevil spread by doing the following:

For more information or to become involved in the Save Florida's Native Bromeliads project:

Contact Dr. J. Howard Frank's lab: University of Florida, Entomology & Nem. Dept., Box 110620, Gainesville, FL 32611. Tel: 352-392-1901, ext. 128 or 122. Email: jhf@ifas.ufl.edu or BCLarson@ifas.ufl.edu.

To support the FCBS Weevil Fund, contact: Ed Hall, FL Council of Bromeliad Societies, 111 CLen Garcy Circle, Maitland, FL 32751. Tel: 407-647-2039. Email: palmetbrom@aol.com.

To report unknown weevils in bromeliads, call the Division of Plant Industry at 352-372-3505 to find your nearest Plant Inspector.

The Dade Chapter has received a small supply of educational posters and fliers about the Mexican bromeliad weevil from the University of Florida's Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS). We were also provided with slide show, reference materials and fact sheets, all conveniently contained in one notebook and ready to be shared with interested individuals or groups. Please contact DCFNPS to if you would like to borrow these materials for educational purposes.

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General information and memberships: Patty Phares (305-255-6404)

Contact in the Keys: Jim Duquesnel at John Pennekamp

Coral Reef State Park (305-451-1202)

President: Steve Woodmansee ( 305-666-8727, smwood@bellsouth.net)

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: 772-462-0000

Tillandsia editors: (co-editor needed) Patty Phares (305-255-6404, pphares@mindspring.com)

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.

© 1999-2005 Dade Chapter Florida Native Plant Society, Inc.

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