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, 2003

In This Issue



Tuesday, September 23, 7:30 p.m. at Fairchild Tropical Garden, 10901 Old Cutler Road. (Fourth Tuesday, not the last)

Ethnobotany of the Saw Palmetto – Dr. Bradley C. Bennett, Associate Professor of Biology, Florida International University.

Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), one of the most abundant plants in Florida, is a characteristic element of pine flatwoods, prairies, scrub, coastal dunes, and mesic hammocks.  The most common palm in the U.S., saw palmetto is found through much of the southeastern coastal plain but is most common in Florida.  Although once considered a bothersome rangeland weed, saw palmetto provides wildlife forage and an array of products for humans including fiber, wax, and medicines.  The dried fruits have been shipped to Europe since the 1700s.  Today the fruits are highly valued as a medicine to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).  Saw palmetto ranks among the top 10 botanicals in the U.S.  Fruit collecting is centered in Immakolee in southwestern Florida.  Dr. Bennett will tell us about many of the human and animal uses of this versatile plant.

Upcoming meeting: October 28 – Rufino Osorio, author of "A Gardener's Guide to Florida's Native Plants" will present a program on cultivation of South Florida wildflowers.

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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. Details are contained in the regular mailed each month to members. Collecting is not permitted. Please join today so that you can enjoy all the benefits of membership!

Sunday, September 21: Two South Dade pinelands.  Coral Reef Park pineland was nicely burned recently and will be awash in fall wildflowers, in particular, the striking purple Liatris spp. Next, at Ludlam Pineland we will continue to enjoy the fall flowers.

Sunday, October 19: Okaloacoochee Slough in Hendry County.  This area is a major headwater for the Fakahatchee Strand and Big Cypress National Preserve.  It contains largely undisturbed wetlands surrounded by oak and cabbage palm-dominated hydric hammocks.  Many grasses and composites should be in bloom.

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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: Wednesday, Sept. 24: Rob Campbell, grower for Plant Creations Nursery in South Dade, will talk about maintaining your native plant landscape – how to use fertilizers and compost and mulch new and established plantings.  Rob has been working professionally in nurseries  and with native plants for 26 years but has been immersed in horticulture and South Florida nature all his life.

The meeting will be at John Pennekamp Coral reef State Park. 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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DCFNPS invites members and their guests to this series of "yard visits" which is planned especially for the newcomers to native plants.  Learn about plants for your yard, what works in certain places, what doesn't work, and maintenance concerns by seeing native landscapes at members' homes (and other places).  Please join FNPS so that you can enjoy all the benefits of membership!  Details are contained in the regular mailed each month to members.

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Everglades National Park Chapter Workday. Coe Visitor Center Landscaping Project Saturday, September 27, 9:00-noon.  Everything is healthy after the spring burn and summer rains.  We need old and new volunteers to help keep it looking good – spreading pine need mulch, weeding, planting a few things.  Please bring pruning tools, drinks, snacks, family, friends. Enjoy the camaraderie as you work and free entrance to the park.

Fairchild Tropical Garden Ramble: DCFNPS display and sale, November 8-9, 9:30 - 4:30.  To volunteer, please contact Patty (305-255-6404, pphares@mindspring.com).  Help on Friday to set up and on Sunday to break down are also needed.

Save the date! March 20, 2004 (Saturday) Native Plant Day at Castellow Hammock Nature Center, sponsored by DCFNPS and Miami-Dade Park and Recreation Department. 

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Tropical Audubon Society. Address: 5530 Sunset Drive.  Call  305-666-5111 or look online at http://tropicalaudubon.org/, for more info and activities. 

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).  Sept 16 topic: vines.

Broward Native Plant Workshop.  3rd Wednesdays at 7:30  UF's Agriculture Research and Ed. Cntr., Davie.  Contact: Chuck McCartney (954-922-9747) for room.  Sept. 17 topic: native tropical trees.

Miami-Dade DERM's Adopt-A-Tree program.  Free trees to homeowners!  Information at 305-468-5900 or www.co.miami-dade.fl.us/derm/adoptatree.  Distributions of native, fruit and flowering trees on Sept. 13 at Miami-Dade Fair and Expo (includes Dahoon holly) and  Oct. 18 in Homestead (includes Paradise tree).   FNPS volunteers are needed.  Contact Joy Klein, kleinj@miamidade.gov, 305-372-6586. 

Help TREEmendous Miami plant Adopt-a-Tree trees for the elderly and disabled, call Amy Creekmur, 305-378-1863, or Gary Hunt, 305-674-9403

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by Kristie Wendelberger

Tephrosia angustissima var. corallicola, commonly known as the Hoary Pea, is a state listed endangered species with only one verified location in the world.  Its current habitat is an agricultural area where mowing and other agricultural practices slow down its reproduction, thereby hindering it from reaching new locations in the fragmented Pine Rockland habitat it natively thrives in.  This concerned the Fairchild Tropical Garden Conservation team. 

Starting in the winter of 2002, we began taking cuttings from the wild population to create another, duplicate population to be planted in a nearby Pine Rockland.  Over the winter and spring, Assistant Conservation Horticulturalist Karen Griffin propagated and grew a multitude of cuttings at the FTG nursery in preparation for June's out-planting. Of those cuttings, 150 were selected, tagged and prepared for planting.  These plants are being used to enhance the current distribution of Tephrosia, as well as help us to understand specific microhabitat requirements of this endangered species.

Dr. Jack Fisher, Senior Research Scientist at FTG, added another element to our study by using 50 Tephrosia seedlings to experiment with various horticultural methods.  He utilized mycorrhizae (tiny, naturally occurring soil fungi helping plants with the uptake of water and nutrients) and fertilizer combinations to determine the best horticultural methods for producing strong out-planting material.  We will be monitoring and collecting data on these plants for the next 5 years. 

The out-planting itself took 22 people (13 great volunteers and 9 FTG staff members) one morning to plant.  It went faster than we ever expected and was a great success!  Since the out-planting, I have wrangled various coworkers into the tedious job of watering the Tephrosia by hand every three days until it rains or they are established.  Bring on the rain! The plants are doing well with little die off.  It is good to know that all our hard work has created a new, permanent location for our native, endangered pea.

Kristie Wendelberger is a DCFNPS member and a Field Botanist with Fairchild Tropical Garden. Though new to South Florida, she is quickly becoming an expert in the conservation of our many endangered and threatened species.

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by Don Keller

Convolvulaceae, the morning glory family, has 50 genera with 5000 species worldwide.  Most are twining or creeping succulents but some are woody shrubs or even trees.  While most abundant in Tropical America and Temperate Asia, the morning glory family is well represented in Florida with 15 genera and 66 species native and introduced.  At least 34 species may be found south of Kendall Drive.

Two forms of one species are very important food sources.  Ipomoea batatus is the yellow sweet potato and the white form is boniato.  Many acres of the latter are cultivated in Dade County.

Other species are used medicinally; jalapas, a powerful purgative, is extracted from a Mexican species.  The seeds of several species have hallucinogenic properties.

The family name is from Latin, "to twine around", which describes the climbing habit.  They are not proper vines as they lack tendrils.  In the northern hemisphere, they twine clockwise.  In the southern hemisphere, they twine counter-clockwise.

The flowers may be red, white, blue, or pink.  Those in the Merremia genus are mostly yellow; the horribly invasive wood rose is one of these.  Almost as bad is Merremia dissecta, having a white flower with a purple center.

Ipomoea, with about 500 species worldwide and over 25 species in Florida, is the largest and most widespread genus.  This genus name comes from two German words meaning "similar to a worm."

Our two species of moonvine are in the genus.  Moonvines are the black sheep of the family and could be called "evening glories" as they open in the evening and close at daylight.

Another nonconforming, exotic species is Ipomoea carnea ssp. fistulosa, the bush morning glory.  It grows as a sprawling, woody shrub to 10' high and wide.  A real crowd pleaser when covered with white or pink flowers.  It is a pest plant in India where it invades and covers fresh water marshes.

Another unusual and invasive species is Ipomoea aquatica, which, as the name implies, is an aquatic species.  It once popped up in Dade County ditch but was promptly eradicated.

Widespread but seldom recognized as members of the morning glory family, are the nine species of Cuscuta, the dodders.  This parasitic genus consists entirely of a tangle of wiry brown stems.  It is often confused with Cassytha filiformis, love vine, another parasite in the laurel family.

The most ubiquitous species in our area is the native, but very aggressive, Ipomoea indica var. acuminata, whose flowers open blue and later turn pink.  A pure white form is occasionally found.

The tiniest one of all is very common but seldom noticed.  Dichondra carolinensis, pony's foot, named for the shape of its half-inch wide leaves, creeps around in grassy areas.  The white flowers are barely 1/16" across.

Ipomoea macrodactyla, man-in-the-ground, is the showiest of the native species.  The brilliant red flowers have a long tube.  They grow best in rocky-sandy pinelands that frequently burn.

Another crowd pleaser is the native Ipomoea sagittata, the glades morning glory.  Found in wet areas, it opens large pink flowers on a tiny stem with few leaves.  A rare white form once popped up in front of a gas station on Krome Avenue.

Jacquemontia pentanthos a beautiful, floriferous blue species is a rare native.  It may be difficult to start in cultivation, but once established grows like gangbusters and will produce hundreds of one-inch flowers every day.

During my morning glory phase in the summer of 1992, I found 33 species south of Kendall Drive.  My copious notes and 33 specimens of flowers and leaves went west when Hurricane Andrew blew through my house.  Since then I have found one more.  Ipomoea lacunose, a small white native came up beneath a bird feeder in my yard – the same spot where I had previously found the three other species – gifts of the birds.

Don Keller is a member of DCFNPS and one of our favorite resources for expert knowledge on ferns, bromeliads, wildflowers and orchids.  He is also a great horticulturist who has donated dozens of unusual and rare plants to raffles and sales, as well as the ferns, bromeliads and peperomias found in the chapter's Everglades National Park landscaping project.             

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TALKING NATIVE: Pineland Jacquemontia (Jacquemontia curtisii) and its close cousin Beach Jacquemontia (Jacquemontia reclinata)

by Karen Griffin

South Florida is home to many endemic species found nowhere else.   Many times, an endemic species will reside in a particular habitat and will have a very close relative that has evolved in another.  An example of this is one of our native lantanas Lantana depressa.  Variety depressa resides as a low-lying shrubby herb in our pine rocklands.  Variety floridana stands upright as a 2-3 foot shrub along the edges of maritime hammock and sand dunes on our barrier islands and keys.  But, lantana is not the subject of this article. 

As Don Keller mentioned in his Ipomoea article, we have many species of the plant family Convolvulaceae in South Florida.  My two favorites are the closely related Jacquemontia curtisii and Jacquemontia reclinata.  These endemic species have established themselves in some of our most threatened habitats: pine rocklands and coastal strand, respectively.  J. curtisii is found in several South Florida counties both east and west and is listed as state endangered.  J. reclinata has a much more restricted range, being found on the barrier islands of Southeast Florida, and is listed as federally endangered.  Both plants are threatened due to loss of habitat. They look very similar, with ¾-1 inch, white flowers that sometimes have rosy pink hues and small almond to egg shaped leaves that grow no more than an inch across, and many times are much smaller.  There are taxonomic differences that I will not detail here; instead, I will talk about the very interesting horticultural differences, which could be attributed to their adaptation to their natural habitats.

Jacquemontia curtisii loves full sun, alkaline soils, and will grow as a localized ground cover with little maintenance required.  It grows compactly and blooms profusely when it gets full sun.  As a pineland species, it is used to being burned back on a regular basis and thus creates a thick taproot that stores a lot of starch and can pry through fissures in the limestone in search for water.*  This provides for several horticultural advantages.  The plant recovers easily from stem damage and can take regular pruning if in a formal garden. It is not fussy when it comes to watering, and bounces back quickly after draught periods once it is established.  It is not adapted to salty conditions, and therefore would not do well right on the coast.  This is a great choice for those on the mainland and works especially well in sunny rock gardens using our native oolitic limestone.  It also works well in container gardens if the vessel is large enough to accommodate its taproot. 

As a dune species, Jacquemontia reclinata, or Beach Jacquemontia, is relatively salt tolerant.  It sends down deep roots that branch out into the layer of sand that stays consistently moist, and also has a surface layer of fibrous roots that most likely serve the purpose of nutrient absorption in the top layer of sand where organic material collects.**  This complex root system may very well be the reason why J. reclinata does not fair well in containers, as the root system is never able to fully develop.

The species is hypersensitive to watering regimes.  Too much or too little water will kill the plant quickly while it is young.  This is probably due to the fact that the plant is adapted to a constant moisture regime.  Therefore, until it is established, do not allow the soil to dry out completely, but whatever you do, don't over water!  Unlike J. curtisiii, J. reclinata sends out long tendrils that will cover a large area.  This species does not see fire as frequently, and interestingly enough is not as tolerant to pruning, but can be controlled if pruned lightly.  

Individual stems will die back when the plant is stressed, but will branch off below the dieback area where it can be pruned.  It is also a sun loving plant, but likes a little bit of shade while it gets established as this prevents the root system from drying out too quickly. 

Though J. reclinata is a bit more fussy than J. curtisii, it still provides a lovely ground cover and also blooms profusely once established.  It is an important dune plant and is highly recommended for those living on the beach. 

Both species are readily propagated by seed and by cuttings.  As it is still unknown whether these two species can hybridize with each other, it is important to be aware of any natural populations near you and to try to keep J. curtisii on the mainland and J. reclinata on the beach. 

Karen Griffin is the new co-editor of the Tillandsia and works as a Conservation Horticulturist at Fairchild Tropical Garden.  She is an avid native plant gardener at home and looks forward to sharing her observations, successes and failures at the nursery, in the garden, and out in nature, with her fellow DCFNPS members in "TALKING NATIVE".  She invites others to do the same, concentrating on one or two species, including natural history and horticultural tips when appropriate. 

*Personal observation

**Observations of Fairchild Tropical Garden Field Biologist, Samuel Wright and Senior Researcher, Dr. Jack Fisher, gained through discussions at FTG on the relatively poor survival rate for J. reclinata in nursery conditions.

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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: Patty Phares (305-255-6404, pphares@mindspring.com) and Karen Griffin.

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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