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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November, 2003

In This Issue



Tuesday, November 25, 7:30 p.m. at Fairchild Tropical Garden, 10901 Old Cutler Road.

Early Everglades Naturalists and Gladesmen Guides.  Dr. Laura Ogden, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Florida International University.  Dr. Laura Ogden is an environmental anthropologist who investigates the process by which people invest natural landscapes with cultural significance.  Her current research is with gladesmen in the Florida Everglades, white settlers who traditionally supported themselves by alligator hunting and commercial fishing.  In addition, she works with state and federal agencies involved in Everglades Restoration initiatives to develop social science research planning and public engagement strategies.  She is co-author (with Glen Simmons) of the book Gladesman: Gator Hunters, Moonshiners and Skiffers and has been a U.S. EPA STAR Environmental Fellow.  Dr. Ogden will be discussing the participation of local residents in the process of transforming the Everglades from an "unknown" landscape to one known to science.

There will be no Tillandsia and no Dade meeting in December, but there are other activities.  Happy holidays!  January 27 meeting: Mike Norland of Everglades National Park will give an update on the progress of the "Hole in the Donut" restoration.

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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!

Saturday, November 29: Chekika, Everglades National Park.  This area used to be a state recreational area with a scenic swimming hole (fed by an artesian well gushing sulfur-laden water), picnic tables, nature trails, camping and a tiny museum.  A few years ago, the artesian well was replaced with pumped non-sulphurous water (to stop pollution downstream) and the park was transferred to ENP.  In the past few years, the park has been closed (partly due to high water), the amenities have been discontinued, and nature has been reclaiming the area.

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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.

Upcoming meetings:

Thursday, November 20:  At this joint meeting with the Big Pine Key Botanical Society, Rob Campbell will discuss plant propagation – which of course includes native plants and lots of other things. Rob is the grower for Plant Creations Nursery in Homestead, a DCFNPS member and Florida native.  He is a treasure trove of information you won't get anywhere else.  Location: Lord of the Seas Lutheran Church on Key Deer Boulevard, Big Pine Key. Turn north at the traffic light, 1.2 miles on the left.  Plant identification at 7:00, program at 7:30 p.m. Bring cuttings of your mystery plants or anything interesting, including flowers and fruit if available.  The program is followed by refreshments and native plant raffle  (donations welcome!)  Contact Halett Douville ( 305/ 872-2055 or douville@bellsouth.net) if you have questions.  The public is invited to the meeting.

Monday, December 8: Alison Higgins, Land Steward Coordinator for The Nature Conservancy in the Florida Keys, will speak about plant restoration in the Key West Salt Ponds.  This is the FNPS annual joint meeting with the Keys Audubon Society.  Alison's sideshow will describe the diversity of the Salt Ponds and efforts to remove alien plant species and replace them with natives, the white crowned pigeon and restoring their food sources in the Salt Ponds, and what you can do in your own yards to support this bird and other wildlife.  The meeting is in Key West and begins at 5:30 p.m.  If you have not received additional details before this meeting, please contact Jim or Lisa.

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Yard visits are for members and their guests only.  Another good reason to join! This visit is part of an ongoing opportunity for those who wish to know the natives in a hands-on manner and to see them in various settings, formal and informal, and to learn the property owner's successes and failures at growing them. These visits are being offered approximately every two months

Saturday, December 13. This is a small yard in Cutler Ridge is packed with approximately 21 native trees, 10 native shrubs and a very special collection of native ferns and epiphytic plants -- some rare and some unnamed.  This will be a unique experience for those who wish to learn the ferns.  Don will share his knowledge of how to grow these plants and tales of early plant explorations in South Dade.

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Saturday, December 6: Dade Chapter workday at Everglades National Park, Coe Visitors Center.  We will continue sprucing up and mulching before the winter season.  This is a wonderful time of year to garden and to visit the park, so please come to help and enjoy the good company. We always need plenty of help.  Your park entrance is free the rest of the day.  Bring drinks and snacks.  Call Patty for more information (305-255-6404).

Visit the Amazon with FNPS.  Spend March 27-April 3 on a luxury 40-passenger ship sailing from Lima and learning about the flora and fauna.  Jo Anne Trebatoski (State FNPS board member) and Fred Trebatoski will escort the FNPS group.  From Miami the cost is $2295 ($1695 from Lima).  Part of the proceeds go to FNPS.  A handout is available at Dade Chapter meetings, or call Explorations Inc. of Bonita Springs at 800-446-9660 for more information.  Call Patty at 305-255-6404 to make other arrangements to get the handout locally.

January will be the chapter's  "Bring a Friend" month.  Please plan to bring at least one friend to January's meeting, field trip, workday or other activity.  More details will be in the January newsletter.

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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).  November 18: Asters.  December 16: Boraginaceae.

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. November 19: South Florida native ferns.

Miami-Dade Park & Recreation Dept. Natural Areas Management (NAM) workdays, 9a.m. - noon.  Wear close-toes shoes and long pants.  Call 305-257-0904 for more information.  Nov. 15: Deering Estate (please call NAM). Dec 6: Whispering Pines Hammock, SW 186 St. and 88 Ct. Jan. 10: Coral Pines Park, SW 104 St. and 70 Ave.

Tropical Audubon Society activities (5530 Sunset Drive).  Call 305-666-5111or see www.tropoicalaudubon.org for more info.  Meetings are free and open to the public.   Nov. 12 meeting – John Ogden, "Restoring the Everglades: Great Expectations and huge uncertainties!".  Nov. 15: workday, 8:30 - noon.  Help restore pineland at TAS.  Jan. 14 meeting – Claudine Laabs of Audubon Society of the Everglades (West Palm Beach), "Up the Upper Amazon" featuring the Pacaya-Samiria Reserve.

The Nature conservancy workdays in the Keys, Saturdays, 9 a.m. - noon.  Call 305/745-8402 for more information.  Dec. 6: Big Pine Key fire hazard reduction.  Help reduce the threat of harmful wildfires and prepare for prescribed burns by thinning out overgrown vegetation. Jan. 10: Blue Heron Hammock, Marathon.  Help kill invasive exotic trees and remove debris.  (Note from FNPS – If you can help transport excess pine needles raked up on BPK to use in the chapter's project at Everglades National Park, please call Patty, 305-255-6404.)

Gifford Arboretum Annual Picnic and Plant Sale, Saturday, December 6, 11:30 - 4:30 p.m.  The University of Miami's Gifford Arboretum invites all plant lovers to celebrate the fall season with their annual picnic.  Activities include plant sales of species found in the Arboretum (including some natives), tours of the Arboretum and other botanical "hotspots" on campus, and food (free refreshments, sandwiches for sale).  It's free and a surprisingly good place to see natives!  The Arboretum is located at the corner of San Amaro Drive and Robbia Avenue in Coral Gables.  (From Miller Road go left, pass Gusman/ Ring Theater and the Cox Science Center, and look for the Arboretum on the right.)  Call 305-284-5364 for more information.

Natives at Home Depot.  Greendale Nursery proudly announces that their native plants will be available to the public through The Home Depot.  Selected species will be in some Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County stores in November.

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NATIVES FOR YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD: An innovative native plant resource for South Florida   

The Institute for Regional Conservation (IRC), a Miami based non-profit organization, is developing a pioneering website focused on supporting native plant projects in South Florida.  Aided by several publications and its own research on native plants, IRC is creating an important tool that intertwines native plant gardening and landscaping with native plant conservation and restoration.   The Natives For Your Neighborhood website will provide easy-to-use interactive guidelines to everyone from backyard native plant enthusiasts to restoration practitioners.  Based on years' worth of sound scientific data, this website will truly interconnect native plant gardening, conservation, and restoration by helping people to recreate natural communities using native plants within their documented historical ranges.

Check out our trial website!  www.regionalconservation.org/beta  (Only selected data is presented on the trial site.)  IRC would like to hear from anyone interested in supporting this project, or improving it with suggestions!  Contributions/donations are welcomed, and may be made online.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact:  abdo@regionalconservation.org

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            by Martin Roessler

On Sunday October 19, 2003, Ms. Jean McCollom, biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, led us on a trip to the marshes, mesic hammock and pine flatwoods of the Okaloacoochee Slough. We were rewarded with a good showing of blooming plants in the Asteraceae and St. John's wort family. Fall blooming and fruiting grasses and graminoids  dominated the flowering/seeding plants. Those who returned to Miami via SR 833 were rewarded with a remarkable exhibit of blooming southeast sunflowers.

[The print newsletter also contains a list of plants that were observed in bloom.]

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by Roger Hammer

Whenever I stroll through nurseries I always like to look at the labels to see if the plants are correctly named and believe me, it's a jungle out there. The most commonly misidentified group of plants in Florida nurseries appears to be the porterweeds (Stachytarpheta spp.). There are only two species in Florida with blue flowers that only last a single day, and those include our native Blue Porterweed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis) and Nettleleaf Vervain (Stachytarpheta urticifolia), an Old World species. The two are actually easy to tell apart. The native Blue Porterweed typically has branches that are mostly horizontal and the plant seldom reaches a height of more than 10" or so, unless it's growing among competing vegetation and is trying to reach sunlight. The leaves have very coarse teeth along the margins and these are mostly forward pointing. The leaves are not quilted (bullate) on the surface and the flowers are sky blue, often with a white center.

Nettleleaf vervain is an upright shrub to about 6' tall with dark green leaves that are prominently quilted and have more numerous, outward-pointing teeth along the margins. The flowers are dark blue with a white center. This is the plant often misidentified as a Florida native, even in many books. But the other day I was in a Home Depot garden shop and noticed that they had Pink Porterweed (Stachytarpheta mutabilis) for sale. This species hails from South America and has pink flowers that last several days each. It is a rather large shrub that can reach over 8' tall with a nearly equal spread. The label on the plants, written in bold black letters, said "FLORIDA NATIVE." Next to the pink-flowered plants were rows of the same species with violet flowers (Stachytarpheta mutabilis var. violacea). Please forgive them for they know not what they do.

Another confusing group of plants are the lantanas. Trust me when I tell you this: No Florida nurseries propagate the Florida endemic Lantana depressa. Oh sure, there are a number of nurseries who will be pleased to sell you plants labeled as such but what they are offering is a low-growing, yellow-flowered hybrid of the exotic Lantana camara. This species is native to the West Indies but is now naturalized worldwide through cultivation. The leaves are very toxic to grazing livestock and the green unripe fruits can be fatal if eaten. It has been manipulated through hybridization and back-crosses to form a wide range of plants with different flower colors and growth habits. The flowers of Lantana depressa open yellow but turn tawny orange with age, and there are typically very few flower heads on a plant. The yellow-flowered, mounding or trailing hybrids in cultivation have lots of cheery yellow flowers and the plants are sterile (a result of hybridization). One low-growing Lantana camara hybrid called 'Cream Carpet' has creamy-white, yellow-centered flowers, and it too is often sold as the native Lantana depressa. And what about those big bushy yellow-flowered lantanas found growing naturally on both of Florida's coasts that were once described as two endemic varieties of Lantana depressa? Please sit down when you read this but they are both (var. floridana and var. sanibelensis) now being referred to as the evil exotic Lantana camara in Wunderlin and Hansen's second edition of Guide to the Vascular Plants of Florida (2003). It should be noted though, that even if these two varieties may be considered conspecific with Lantana camara by some, they are still native to Florida, and under no circumstances should non-native forms of Lantana camara be planted as natives.

Hey, and while you're sitting down, how about that yellow-flowered Hamelia in cultivation? I've seen it for sale as a Florida native even under the misnomer 'African Firebush!' It has recently been identified by Thomas Elias of the National Herbarium (and who wrote a monograph on the genus Hamelia) as Hamelia patens var. glabra, a native of southern Mexico, Central America, and northern South America. The name 'African Firebush' was coined because material was introduced into the Florida nursery trade from a botanical garden in Pretoria, South Africa. It differs from the native Firebush (Hamelia patens var. patens) in having mostly glabrous leaves and yellow or orangish yellow, tubular flowers (not bell-shaped like Hamelia cuprea, which is also sold in southern Florida nurseries).

Another plant seen advertised in Florida is 'Dwarf Firebush,' and this appears to be nothing more than a cultivar of our native Firebush. It has darker red flowers than the typical wild form seen in Florida and has a more compact, bushy growth habit to about 6' tall or more. Its history of origin in the Florida nursery trade is unknown.

And then there's that really pretty and fuzzy variety of Necklace Pod (Sophora tomentosa) that is widely sold and planted throughout much of central and southern Florida. The variety with all of that pubescence is Sophora tomentosa var. occidentalis, native to tropical America. The native variety (var. truncata) has very little pubescence and is hardly ever seen in cultivation in Florida.

Nurseries that specialize in Florida native plants should make doubly sure that what they are offering are truly Florida native species to keep from causing further confusion and frustration by those who trust them to be offering what is being advertised. Especially at Florida Native Plant Society state conference plant sales.

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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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