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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April, 2004

In This Issue


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

"Florida Keys Wildflowers." Speaker: Roger Hammer.

Roger Hammer, author of Everglades Wildflowers and the recently-released  (or soon to be!) book, Florida Keys Wildflowers, will present a slide-lecture on the wildflowers, trees, shrubs and woody vines of the enchanting Florida Keys.  His talk will include both common and critically imperiled species, as well as name derivations, bird and butterfly attracting attributes, uses for food or medicines, and other interesting facts about the native plants of the Florida Keys.  If the books are not available in time for this meeting, we'll arrange to have signed books at a later time.

Roger is a Senior Interpretive Naturalist for Miami-Dade Parks Department, Director of Castellow Hammock Nature Center, part-time instructor at Fairchild Tropical Garden, lecturer and walk leader all over South Florida, board member of Tropical Audubon Society,  member of FNPS and popular contributor to Tillandsia and The Palmetto – to name just a few of his accomplishments and contributions on behalf of South Florida's native plants and environment.

Upcoming meetings: May 25 – Adrian Hunsberger, "Insect Pests of Native Plants"

Thanks in advance to our refreshment donors. Additional refreshments and plants for the raffle table are always welcome.  Please examine your plants for lobate lac scale before bringing them!

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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 May 9: Long Key State Park.  Take a stroll with Mom on Mothers' Day and check out some of the wildflowers and other plants we learned about from Roger Hammer's program in April.  This 965-acre park has trails through coastal strand and hammock.

Also, don't miss other trips planned by the Keys FNPS Group – see ACTIVITIES IN THE KEYS.

Saturday, May 1: some of Key West's remaining native plants and natural areas.

Sunday, May 16: North Key Largo.  Joint activity of FNPS and the Miami Blue Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association (NABA).  See butterfly-significant flora and Lepidoptera of NKL.

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Keys and Dade members – you 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: Friday, April 30, in Key West.  Keith Bradley, Research Biologist with The Institute for Regional Conservation in Miami-Dade County, will speak about the Native Flora of Key West.  Almost all of Key West's natural areas have been cleared and determining what used to occur there requires some detective work.  Keith has been searching through herbariums throughout Florida and at the New York Botanical Garden, compiling as complete a botanical history as possible. Location: Monroe County Public Library, 700 Fleming Street, Key West.  Directions: Coming into Key West from US1, turn right onto N. Roosevelt Blvd., go a couple miles and turn right at the stop light at Palm Ave. (becomes Eaton Street), turn left on Elizabeth.  The library is on the left on the corner of Elizabeth and Fleming.  Time: meeting begins at 7:30.  7 p.m., plant identification workshop.  Bring a twig (with several leaves, fruit and flowers if possible) of mystery or interesting plants.  Co-hosted by FNPS and the Key West Botanical Garden Society.

May meeting: Chris Migliaccio of Miami-Dade College will speak about Florida's native palms.  Big Pine Key. Details TBA.


Field trips are for the study of plants and enjoyment of nature by FNPS members and their invited guests.  Please join so that you can enjoy all the chapter’s activities!

Saturday, May 1 (day after the Keys Group meeting). Meet at the Key West Botanical Garden on Stock Island.  Chris Bergh of The Nature Conservancy and Keith Bradley (Friday's speaker) will show the group some of Key West's remaining native plants and natural areas.

Sunday, May 16: North Key Largo.  This joint activity of FNPS and the Miami Blue Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association (NABA) will examine the butterfly-significant flora and Lepidoptera of North Key Largo, including some permit-only areas.  Park Biologist Jim Duquesnel will accompany the group while they are in the park.

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Saturday, May 1, 2 - 4 p.m.  Landscaped yards and mangroves.  Gables by the Sea.

Yard visits are for the study of plants and enjoyment of nature by FNPS members and their invited guests. Please join to enjoy all the benefits of membership

This visit will be to a home that has been beautifully landscaped using mostly natives.  It is a formal planting and approximately 2 years in place.  Near this property we will walk to a mangrove area to observe many salt-tolerant plants.  After that, there will be a short drive to another home.

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.

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Message from the chapter president:

Spring is here and there is much to celebrate.  Native Plant Day at Castellow Hammock Nature Center was quite the success.  I want to thank all who participated, especially the volunteers who dedicated their personal time to make the event work.  I also want to thank the rest of the Native Plant Day Committee who helped me: Gwladys Scott, Matthew St. Aubin and Patty Phares.   As chair, I could not have done it all without their most valuable help.  Next year we hope to hold Native Plant Day at an entirely new venue, Biscayne Nature Center at Crandon Park.  We will be forming a new NPD committee and if you would like to help, please give me a call.

Elections are in May.  Please read the new proposed amendments in this month's newsletter.  If you think you can contribute your time and serve on the DCFNPS board, please contact me as soon as possible: Steve Woodmansee (305-666-8727, smwood@bellsouth.net).

Proclaim your pride in your native plant garden with a 6"x6" metal plaque suitable for display in your yard.  Green lettering on a white background says: " Florida Native Plants and Animals Give Life and Beauty to this Landscape", followed by the FNPS Palmetto logo and Web site address.  Available for $6 at chapter meetings.

Can you host our evening yard visit meeting in July?  Once a year we leave the confines of our usual meeting room and meet at a member's home (or perhaps another location) where we can relax after work, see native plants and visit with each other.  We are moving our traditional June "summer solstice evening yard visit and social" to July to take advantage of the typically drier weather in July.  The date is flexible (though our usual 4th Tuesday is preferred).  Please call Amy Leonard (305-668-5993) if you are interested in opening your yard to us. 100% natives NOT required!

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The annual chapter meeting will take place at the regular monthly meeting on May 25 at Fairchild Tropical Garden.  The business meeting will be very brief.  Items of business include voting on a proposed amendment to the bylaws and the election of officers.  The proposed amendment revises the schedule on which officers and board members are replaced.  Instead of having all board members elected annually, they would serve 2-year terms with half the board elected in alternating years.  The text of the amendment follows.  If you would like to see the full text of the current bylaws, please contact Steve Woodmansee.

Replace the text of Section 1 of Article VI. Board of Directors by:

"The control and conduct of the Chapter shall be vested in its Board Of Directors. The Board shall be comprised of at least ten(10) people who must be current members of FNPS in good standing. The Board of Directors shall consist of the elected officers, the immediate Past-President and up to six(6) chapter members elected as follows: 1.) the President, Vice-President and three(3) Board members to two year terms that expire in even-numbered years and 2.) the Secretary, Treasurer and three(3) Board members to two year terms that expire in odd-numbered years. This method of election shall begin at the Annual Meeting in May, 2004 with the Secretary, Treasurer and three(3) Board members to initially be elected to a one-year term to expire in May, 2005."

Add Section 8. Vacancies on the Board of Directors.

"Vacancies on the Board of Directors that occur between Annual Meetings may be filled by a majority vote of the Board of Directors. Any person so elected shall serve until the next Annual Meeting and is then eligible for election to a regular Board Position."

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Protecting Florida's Future with Native Landscapes

Every year for the past twenty three years, people from all over Florida have attended this educational conference which focuses on ecosystems, wildlife and scientific aspects of the state of Florida.  The participants, attracted by field trips and expert speakers, are diverse and include educators, the nursery industry, local, state and federal agency representatives, homeowners, naturalists, members of environmental organizations and the general public.

The Tarflower FNPS Chapter is hosting this year's conference in Lake Buena Vista.  The conference will explore how native landscapes in urban Florida, as well as sweeping landscapes in a more natural setting, not only enhance our lives and the well-being of the living things that are here with us, but more important, protect this rare and unique place, Florida.  Attendees will have a choice of field trips; can choose to listen to speakers who focus on a scientific theme, community theme or on Florida Ecosystems; and peruse the plant sale and two rooms of vendors selling books, arts and crafts.

For more information see the conference brochure mailed to you, visit www.fnps.org, or call 321-951-2210.  Donations of raffle items are also needed!

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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).  April 20: Plants unique to the Florida Keys.

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. April 21: Native and naturalized plants in the families Boraginaceae (heliotropes, etc.) and the Verbenaceae (the verbena family).

Miami-Blue Chapter, North American Butterfly Association.  May 2 meeting, program begins at 1 p.m., Castellow Hammock Nature Center, 22301 SW 162 Ave.. Ted Fleming, a widely published field botanist, speaks about Zebra longwings. Come early to spot butterflies at the park.  May 16: field trip with FNPS to North Key Largo.  See details in this newsletter under "Activities in the Keys".  NABA Survey of Butterflies of Extreme South Florida and the Keys: Check www.NABA.org.   April 18: Members only are invited to a special field trip to a private butterfly garden in Coconut Grove with brunch and other stops.  Join NABA to get details and the whole calendar!  Memberships begin at $30.  Contact

Butterfly/Dragonfly/Bird walk, May 8, 10 a.m., led by Bob Kelley at UM's Gifford Arboretum.  Call 305-284-5364 or visit www.bio.miami.edu/arboretum.

Miami-Dade Park & Recreation Dept. Natural Areas Management (NAM) workdays, 9a.m. - noon.  Wear closed-toe shoes and long pants.  Call 305-257-0904 for more information.  Apr. 10, May 1: Kendall Indian Hammocks Park (11345 SW 79 St.) AND Oak Grove Park (NE 159 St. and 6 Ave.).

Tropical Audubon Society activities (5530 Sunset Drive).  Call 305-667-7337 or see www.tropicalaudubon.org for more info and activities.  Meetings are free and open to the public (7:30 p.m., program at 8 p.m.).  Apr. 14 meeting: Ron Nuehring, "Birds, marine mammals and terrain of the Antarctic peninsula, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands".  Apr. 17: workday, 8:30 - noon.  Help restore pineland at TAS.  Apr. 11: Charles Deering Estate Nature Walk.  Fee and reservations required.  Contact rickc@tropicalaudubon.org and include your phone number or call 305-667-7337.

The Nature Conservancy workdays in the Keys, Saturdays, 9 a.m. - noon.  Call 305/745-8402. May 1, Boca Chica Beach, a spot frequented by many Monroe County residents, is under attack by an invasive, non-native shrub called Asiatic colubrina.  Help take back this county beach.

Web-based virtual field trip "Invasive Species: America's Least Wanted." April 1 - July 30, presented by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Wildlife Refuge System. Geared toward grades 4-6.  FREE!  Register at www.efieldtrips.org/invasives.

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The Miami-Dade County Rare Plant Swat Team swoops in to remove invasive plants that are intermixed with and are directly threatening rare native plants in sensitive habitats.  Currently, we are providing a little more breathing room for the beautiful native ferns of Bill Sadowski Park's hardwood hammock.  Recent work-mornings have been enormous successes -- and we mean enormous! -- with dozens of extra-large garbage bags full of the invasive fern Tectaria incisa removed.  We need more people for our team.  Please contact us if you would like to lend a hand at a future work day.  Be prepared for hard work and a grrreat feeling of accomplishment!  We meet approximately monthly (tentative upcoming dates April 24 and May 22), and will move on to other parks after Bill Sadowski.

Jennifer Possley (305-667-1651 x3433; jpossley@fairchildgarden.org)

Cristina Rodriguez (305-257-0933 x 230; CristiR@miamidade.gov).

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If you have planted South Florida slash pine (Pinus elliottii var. densa) in Miami-Dade County within the last 20 years and some of your trees have turned yellow and died, The Institute for Regional Conservation is interested in hearing from you.  Information on when and where you planted, how many trees, container sizes, height of tree when turned yellow, soil and light conditions, etc. could help us to better understand how to restore pine rocklands in Miami-Dade County.  IRC is also interested in the largest trees and the longest-lived trees people have planted at their homes or schools.  Please contact George Gann via email at gann@regionalconservation.org or send a note to IRC, 22601 SW 152 Avenue, Miami, FL 33170.

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TALKING NATIVE: Establishing Natives at Home 

            by Karen Griffin

First, forget about the myth that you can plant a native and then leave it alone and watch it grow.  While natives are easy to care for in many respects, they still need care.  Natives grown in cultivation are babied. They are fed, watered, trimmed, coaxed, and praised.  They do not behave the same, therefore, as they would if they germinated and grew in the wild.  This article is not the definitive on caring for your natives, but I am writing from my own experience and from experiences others have shared with me.

In the wild, many of our natives rely on microscopic members of the fungal kingdom called mycorrhizae.  The mycorrhizae create symbiotic relationships with the plants, living in the plants' roots and capitalizing on the rich source of carbon while they absorb and process nutrients from the soil and make them available to the plants.  This allows our natives to thrive in our nutrient poor soils, as nutrients are made available to them that they would otherwise not be able to use.  This relationship can start at time of germination and continues throughout the plant's lifetime.  The nutrients supplied by this relationship are at much lower levels than in nutrient rich soils.  It is for this reason that our natives can thrive without much fertilizer once established in your yard, as they have evolved to need much less nutrients than those plants that grow in nutrient rich soils.

In cultivation, nurseries use relatively sterile potting mixes that do not have mycorrhizae and therefore, as all plants need nutrients, nurseries raise our natives with fertilizer.  The plants become used to readily available nutrients and often grow and mature much faster than in the wild.  While mycorrhizae most likely live in all types of soil, even in your yard, the plants that you take home from plant sales have not had the opportunity to develop this relationship and thus may need help when planted.  In most cases, yard soil is nutrient rich compared to our native soils, so our natives can become self sufficient once established.  Also, the plants will more than likely be able to develop a relationship with whatever myccorrhizae exist in the soil.  However, for the first growing season, it is wise to provide your natives with a dose of slow release fertilizer at least once or twice.  This is readily available at your local retail gardening supply store. Use half the recommended dosage, as our natives do not need more than that.

Once the plants have established themselves, they can survive without fertilizer.  However, their growth will slow.  If you want your natives to grow faster, continuing to supply them with slow release fertilizer during each growing season will not harm them in any way.  I recommend giving them a dose right before the rainy season starts in June and then again in September.  Slow release fertilizer only works when it gets wet, so be sure to water in the plants well when you apply the fertilizer and, if you fertilize early, at least a couple times a month until the rainy season kicks in.

Winter is dry and cool here in South Florida.  Our natives have evolved to slow their growth or even go completely dormant during the dry season.  Therefore, if you plant anytime from late fall to early spring, you will notice that the plants will not have the usual growth spurt one sees during the wet season, even if you fertilize and water.  I recommend, if at all possible, not to plant later than early October.

But, if you are like me, and can't resist that extra special native you happen along, then there are some steps you have to take to ensure your plant establishes during this time of the year.  You must make sure you water regularly.  Anytime you plant, you need to water your plants in thoroughly right after you put the plant in the ground.  During the dry season, water daily for the first 1-2 weeks.  Then water every other day or so (at least 3 times a week) for another 2-3 weeks.  Then water weekly for the next month.  This should give the plant a good chance to grow new roots.

Watering thereafter can be based on how dry, windy and cool the weather is.  If it is dry, sunny and windy, you may need to water weekly.  If it is cool, cloudy, with a little rain here and there you may be able to extend the watering to once every two weeks, especially if you mulch.  If you have planted a tree, especially Dade County Pine, you should continue to water weekly until the rainy season kicks in.  Dade County Pines need plenty of water to get established in cultivation, and will yellow and droop if not watered sufficiently (this is NOT the Yellow Death that George Gann is asking about!).  I do not use my irrigation system to water.  Instead, I use my hose.  A pain, but it is more water efficient and I do not water plants that have already been established and are jiving to the regular change of seasons.

After a native plant has gone through a full growing season, it can usually get through the dry season with little to no watering.  Keep watch, however.  I will douse those plants that I know like a little more water a few times over the dry season to keep them from completely going crisp on me.  Specifically, such things as blue-eyed grass and pineland pinklets like soil a little moister and always appreciate the hose every once in a while during the winter months.

If you plant during the dry season, I would provide a light dosage (1/4 of the recommended dose) of fertilizer ONLY during the initial watering regime.  Do not fertilize more than once, and once the plant is established, there is no need to fertilize during the dry season.  The plants will not use it in sufficient amounts to make it worth your while.  While problems in the cultivation of Dade County pines are still little understood (and is being studied), the current thought is that they should not be fertilized much or regularly, if at all.  I would not fertilize at all, though some people feel that a very tiny amount of "palm special" may help when there is indication of nutritional deficiency.

If you are planting during the wet season, make sure the plants get watered every day the first week.  After that, watering can be reduced to every other day for the next couple of weeks, and then down to weekly for the next month or so.  Keep track of the weather and take turns with the rain as needed.  You may find that Mother Nature will take care of all your watering after the initial week or two.  Rain is better for your plants than city or even well water, which is another reason to avoid planting during the dry season.  So, when you think you cannot stand one more hot, humid, summer day, remember how happy your plants are during this time of year and things will look much brighter…you may actually start looking forward to summer!

There is much more to say about caring for your native plant garden, but I will save that for another article.  Until then, I hope this article helps you to establish the native garden you have always dreamed about!

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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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