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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July/August, 2006

In This Issue




  • 15 (Sat.): Field trip – Chapel Trail Preserve
  • 25 (Tues.): Evening yard visit and social meeting (Dade)
  • 29 (Sat.): Everglades Nat. Park chapter workday


  • 5 (Sat.) Field trip - Camp Owaissa Bauer
  • 26 (Sat.): Everglades Nat. Park chapter workday


Tuesday, July 26,  6:30-9 p.m.  Annual evening yard visit and social (not at Fairchild).

A member's home in Cutler Ridge.  This lush yard has a mixture of native and exotic plants.  A patio will offer shelter if it rains while we enjoy our potluck dinner.  Dress appropriately for the heat and possible mosquitoes (bring repellant just in case).  We will have the plant raffle as usual, so bring your donations and dollars!  (Please check your plants for lobate lac scale.)

Upcoming meetings:

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

Saturday, July 15:  Chapel Trail Nature Preserve in Broward County.  This park is administered by the city of Pembroke Pines. It consists of 450 acres of restored wetlands that can be viewed from a 1,650-foot-long boardwalk. The restoration of this section of Everglades marsh was paid for through a "wetlands bank," where developers pay to fund restoration in exchange for destroying wetlands elsewhere.  We hope to see many of the aquatic and wetland plants featured in Chuck McCartney's June program. Details in our printed newsletter.

Saturday, August 5: Camp Owaissa Bauer.  One of Miami-Dade's oldest parks, it is 110 acres of natural rockland hammock and pine rockland.  As one of the highest points in Dade county, it is a must see for all Miamians (please humor us if you just returned from the Rockies). We will be walking through the pineland as well as Timm's Hammock.   Details in our printed newsletter.

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The Keys FNPS season is over for the season.  If you have suggestions for next year's activities (Nov-April) or could help with planning or making arrangements, please contact the FNPS general contact number or  chapter president (see contact info on back).  Your message will be relayed to the appropriate person.  New helpers on the Keys Committee are greatly needed!

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Saturday, July 29 and August 26, 9 a.m. - noon.  Everglades National Park Workdays.  We'll keep it short and cool down in the visitor's center.  Come September, we'll be glad we didn't let the weeds go all summer.  Drinks, hand tools and gloves are provided, but you might want to bring your own as well as a water bottle and snacks to share.  Free admission to the park for your car.   We always welcome new volunteers, family, kids and guests!  For more information contact Patty (305-255-6404,  pphares@mindspring.com )  Obviously, you should reconfirm if a hurricane threatens.

Keys group: New help on the Keys committee and suggestions for programs and activities for next season (Nov-April) are needed. Don't assume that someone else will do it!  Please contact the FNPS general contact number or chapter president (see contact info on back) if you could help on the committee, even just for making phone calls and arranging for refreshments at the two meetings per season in your area.

Share your gardening tips, nature observations, articles, news and announcements in Tillandsia.  Please send your contributions to co-editor Patty Phares.  The newsletter only works if a broad base of members share what they know with each other.

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I would like to thank Steve Woodmansee for the dedication he has shown to DCFNPS over the past three years as Chapter President.  He, along with the outgoing board members, has done much to add structure to our operations behind the scenes and helped the Chapter extend its reach in Dade and Monroe. I also want to thank the many dedicated members who make our events and presence in the community have as much impact as they do.  We are a chapter of many such people, and it is my hope to add strength to our numbers, as well as to add numbers to our strength.  Thank YOU for the part you play in that role.  I look forward to my term as President of our chapter.

Amy Leonard, DCFNPS President

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Many of you may not know Greg Ballinger, the creator of the chapter's web site and webmaster for about 8 years.  Tillandsia Web, located at http://dade.fnpschapters.org/ is an easy way to find out the month's meeting, learn about Native Plant Day and other upcoming activities, and access links to other organizations and native plant information.  You can read the Tillandsia newsletters back to March 1999.  Greg is working on a Plants section of our website, which will include articles, notes, detailed descriptions, photos, and or drawings of many common native plants.  The web site is a frequent and useful resource for the general public and often the way people first learn about the Florida Native Plant Society.  We receive many compliments on the web site.

In this day of web based information, we sometimes take for granted the instant availability of information, even though a lot of work goes on behind it.  We heartily thank Greg for his years of dedicated service (and more to come), and we most assuredly appreciate all that he has done and continues to do for our organization.  Please visit our website and perhaps send Greg a message of thanks.

Steven W. Woodmansee, Past President

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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 St.  Study of plant ID and taxonomy.  Call Steve Woodmansee (305-247-6547.   Upcoming workshops are July 18 and August 15. www.regionalconservation.org/ircs/aboutus/Outreach.asp gives the topic each month.

Miami-Blue Chapter, North American Butterfly Assoc.  See www.miamiblue.org or contact Elane Nuehring (305-666-5727, miamiblue@bellsouth.net). Annual butterfly counts: Big Cypress (July 15) and several locations in Dade (July 22) invite all butterfly identification skill levels. Contact Dennis Olle (djo@adorno.com) for Big Cypress or Elane (above) for Dade). Sunday, August 13: Quarterly meeting, 1 pm, Castellow Hammock, 22301 SW 162 Ave. (South Dade). Program: "Why are my caterpillars disappearing?" by Adrian Hunsberger, Miami-Dade County Extension.  Come early to "butterfly."

Tropical Audubon Society.  5530 Sunset Drive. 305-667-7337,  www.tropicalaudubon.org  for details and more events.

TREEmendous Miami plants native and non-native trees from DERM's Adopt-a-Tree program at the homes of senior/disabled residents.  Contact Amy, 305-378-1863 or www.treemendousmiami.org. June 24: Little Gables area.  Aug. 5: east or airport area.

Adopt-a-Tree. Miami-Dade DERM's next tree distributions are

All Miami-Dade residential single-family and duplex homeowners may pick up 2 FREE trees (including native, fruit and flowering trees) per property per year. For recorded event information, call 305-372-6555. For updates see www.miamidade.gov/derm

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED An excuse to go to Miami Beach!  Help Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden with a dune restoration project on Saturday morning, July 22, at  North Shore Open Space Park, 85th and Collins.  Volunteers will remove invasive exotics that outcompete native dune plants in preparation for planting an endangered plant species.  Family-friendly (age 13 and up). Bring hat, gloves and sunscreen.  Contact Arlene Ferris at 305-667-1651 x 3314.  Two free FTBG passes to all volunteers.

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Sunday July 30, 2006, 9:30 – 4:30
Cosponsored by the Miami Blue Chapter, NABA and
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

Keynote speaker: Jeffrey Glassberg , President and founder of the North American Butterfly Association and coauthor of Butterflies Through Binoculars.

Arrive early for a pancake brunch, an introduction to South Florida butterflies, and guided butterfly walks. Throughout the day, participate in butterfly observation and presentations on butterflies of South Florida , identification skills, and butterfly host plants. Also: plant sale and children’s activities.

Free after admission to Fairchild (free for FTBG members).
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Simpson Park in the City of Miami reopened in June after being closed since Hurricane Katrina last August. While the tree canopy is now less dense, the hammock is full of interesting sights as the plants respond to increased light.  The trail is clear and the pond, which was restored 2 years ago and then damaged by Katrina, is being repaired.  There is a PowerPoint presentation to instruct visitors on the history and features of the park.  New interpretive signs, benches and tables are in the works, too.

Charles Torey Simpson, a noted naturalist and author early in the 20th century, was instrumental in persuading officials to preserve some of Brickell Hammock.  Due his effort, Jungle Park (as it was once known) was somewhat restored to its original condition.  In 1927 the park's name was changed to Simpson Park, and it was dedicated in 1931. It is it not only an environmental treasure but is also an important cultural and historic jewel.

Park Naturalists Juan Fernandez and Ernesto Martinez invite you  to visit this piece of history, share your ideas on how Simpson Park can serve the community and to volunteer at the park.  Please contact Juan at JGFernandez@ci.miami.fl.us  or 305-575-5256.  The park at 55 SW 17 Road is easy to get to (from South Dade take US1 to South Miami Avenue and turn left at 17 Road).  Hours are 8:30 to 5 every day.  A brief history of the park is at http://www.ci.miami.fl.us/cms/Files/HistoryofSimpsonPark.pdf

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by Kristi Wendelberger

Simpson Park is an 8.5-acre oasis of tropical hammock biodiversity in the land of concrete and hectic rush hour traffic called Miami.  This City of Miami Park is one of a few small fragments that remain of Brickell Hammock, once the largest most diverse hammock in South Florida.  Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma took a toll on Simpson Park last year.  There are now large gaps in the canopy due to trees that fell during the storms, and signs of Park Naturalist, Juan Fernandez and the City of Miami maintenance crew working to clean up debris: wood piles, cut up downed trunks, invasive species removal.   However, tropical hammocks, like all south Florida ecosystems, evolved with hurricanes.   In this once shady park, plants at are trying hard to sprout new branches, germinate new seeds and grow in the new sunlit areas created by the treefall.

According to the Institute for Regional Conservation, Simpson Park contains 165 plant taxa, 14 of which are Florida state endangered and 6 are Florida state threatened.  Most notable is the endangered Licaria triandra or Gulf Licaria.   Before Hurricane Katrina, Simpson Park boasted having the only reproductive adult of Gulf Licaria in the United States.  This prolific seeder, like many tropical canopy species, has a population of thousands of seedlings and juveniles waiting in the understory for an event such as Katrina.  Unfortunately, the storm felled the only adult Gulf Licaria.  However, the waiting juveniles and seedlings are quickly responding with new, flushed leaves and growth.  There is a stem, growing from the base of the felled tree still alive with prolific growth, but it is difficult to say whether this is a branch of the adult tree or a juvenile that germinated and grew right next its parent. Hopefully, with time, some of the juveniles and/or seedlings will make it into the canopy where they will be able to flower and cross pollinate, strengthening the Gulf Licaria population at Simpson Park.

The following rare plants can be found along the winding trails or peeking out from the center of this once shady park (E=Endangered, T=Threatened):

Scientific Name

Common Name



Bourreria succulenta

Smooth strongback,
Bahama strongbark



Canella winterana

Cinnamon bark,
Pepper cinnamon



Colubrina arborescens

Coffee colubrina,



Dalbergia brownii

Brown's Indian rosewood



Eugenia confusa

Ironwood, Redberry stopper



Guajacum sanctum

Lignumvitae, Holywood lignumvitae



Licaria triandra

Gulf licaria,
Pepperleaf sweetwood



Peperomia obtusifolia

Florida peperomia,
Baby rubberplant



Picramnia pentandra

Florida bitterbush



Roystonea regia

Royal palm, Florida royal palm



Schaefferia frutescens

Florida boxwood



Thrinax radiata

Green thatch palm,
 Florida thatch palm



Tillandsia fasciculata var. densispica

Stiff-leaved wild-pine,
Cardinal airplant



Tournefortia hirsutissima

Chiggery grapes



Calyptranthes pallens

Spicewood, Pale lidflower



Chrysophyllum oliviforme




Coccothrinax argentata

Florida silver palm



Drypetes lateriflora




Myrcianthes fragrans

Simpon's Stopper



Prunus myrtifolia

West Indian Cherry



IRC: http://regionalconservation.org/ircs/index.asp

Kristie Wendelberger, Field Botanist/Permit Coordinator
Center for Tropical Plant Conservation
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

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by John Geiger

Photo by Mark W. Skinner @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database. Click to view the PLANTS Database Profile.


Wild potato/Man-in-the-ground/Bejuco colorado, Ipomoea microdactyla

We citizens of Miami-Dade County are very lucky to have this beautiful vine in our backyard.  In the United States, it is only found in the pine rocklands of our county, while its entire range includes the Bahamas and Cuba.  The blooms on this perennial, woody vine are a striking scarlet to pink about 1½ inches in diameter.  They have the typical morning glory shape, somewhat funnel shaped with nectar at the base of the corolla.  Flowers are visited by bees, butterflies, and, as the ruby color and shape advertise, hummingbirds.  Plants have a large underground tuber, much like their relative the sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas), and new stems resprout quickly from the tuber after burns in the fire-maintained pine rockland habitat.

What makes this plant so special and precious to me, besides its beauty, is the fact that it presently exists in only 36 pine rockland fragments throughout our county and in Everglades National Park.  Some of the fragments with a population include: Larry and Penny Thompson Memorial Park, Bill Sadowski Park, Coral Reef Park, and Camp Owaissa Bauer.  I chose this species for my Ph.D. research because I wanted to explore which environmental factors are significant for the continued persistence of threatened plant species relegated to hyper-fragmented habitats.  For better or worse, there were many pine rockland natives I could have chosen to study.  The reason for the long list is quite clear.  Most of us live in areas that were formerly pine rocklands, sadly now irreplaceably lost.  Outside of the priceless acres protected in Everglades National Park, there remains less than 2% of the original pine rockland habitat in Miami-Dade County. 

In light of this, I am performing a multidisciplinary study of Ipomoea microdactyla.  My dissertation project has three components: 1) a breeding system study to gauge self-compatibility / self-incompatibility (ability of an individual to fertilize itself), 2) a demographic study of plants in Miami-Dade County and on Andros Island in the Bahamas (growth, survival and reproduction), and 3) a population genetic study to measure genetic variation using microsatellite genetic markers.  By utilizing an integrative approach, I hope to offer land managers a more complete evaluation of this species' conservation status. 

Results from the breeding system study are hopeful.  This hermaphroditic (i.e. each individual produces both male and female sex cells) species almost fully incapable of sexual reproduction within individuals does show a high degree of compatibility among individuals.  It appears the remaining individuals from several isolated habitat fragments do have the potential to produce viable seeds, always a promising result for any endangered species.  A requirement for successful reproduction is prescribed burning in this fire-maintained habitat which stimulates synchronous flowering followed by fruit and seed set.  Study sites on Andros Island in the Bahamas are frequently burned and the plants have high rates of reproduction, while long unburned sites in Miami-Dade County (a condition shared by most fragments) show very little to no seed production. 

The plants themselves are very hardy.  Of the nearly 1,000 individuals I have been surveying for the last three years, there has been no mortality both here and on Andros.  The 100% survival rate is reassuring and remarkable as many have gone through not only repeated hurricanes but multiple fires as well.  For the third component study, it seems the plants in Miami-Dade County have less genetic variation than those found on Andros.  This result is not surprising as the pine rockland habitat here is fairly young and was most likely colonized by a small number of individuals.  Still, Floridian individuals have many morphological characteristics that set them apart as uniquely different from those occurring on Andros.  This may imply that they are on a trajectory to becoming a separate species, if they can persevere.

In conclusion, the conservation and continued persistence of Ipomoea  microdactyla relies on protecting the fragmented pine rockland habitat and actively managing these few, valuable acres.  I would therefore recommend that land managers acquire as much of the remaining habitat as possible, restore neglected sites with prescribed burning and work toward educating the public, especially the young, about the beauty and intrinsic worth of this unique habitat in our own backyard.  We all can be a part of the solution by using our voting privilege and by vocally defending the value of pine rockland as pine rockland.

The following quote about Ipomoea microdactyla is from John Loomis Blodgett (pioneer botanist of southern Florida) in a letter dated 15 October 1845 to John Torrey.  It appeared an article by R. Bruce Ledin in Tequesta (year unknown), a yearly publication of the Historical Association of Southern Florida and the University of Miami.

"One with tuberous roots in shape size & taste almost precisely like the sweet potatoes but the most splendid flowering vine I ever beheld – The flowers almost precisely the colour of those of the Lobelia Cardinalis a little deeper if anything.  I found it growing in the rocky barrens near the southern extreme of the peninsula.  I brougt home some of the tubers & am trying to domesticate them."

I am indebted to the Florida Native Plant Society for awarding me a grant from the 2006 Endowment Fund.  The grant will allow this Miami native to study which factors are important to preserve this Florida state endangered plant restricted to Miami-Dade County.  The continued funding of the FNPS Endowment Fund will encourage researchers like me to champion the cause of the many neglected plant species found on the list of Florida's threatened and endangered species.

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At our May meeting, board members were elected for 1 or 2-year terms.  (The past president is also an automatic board member.)  We'd like you to get to know them better.  Please feel free to discuss your ideas and concerns with them.  Director at Large Ted Shaffer is missing here, but we'll include his bio in a later issue.  As you can see, we owe a lot to Michigan!

Mary Ann Bolla (Director at Large) is a 5th generation Florida native from Arcadia, who learned nature from her father and grandfather.  In the 1960s and 1970s she worked as Dade County Naturalist, as well as at Everglades National Park.  She has a Bachelor of Science (Environmental Studies) from FIU and went on for a Master's at UF (tropical fruits and Florida native relatives) and a Ph.D. also at UF (grafting techniques for mamey sapote).  She is now retired from Abbott Laboratories (former agricultural division) and is back in the Florida Keys.  Mary Ann serves as the board's liaison with the Keys FNPS members.

Patricia A. (Patty) Harris (Director at Large) is a long-time Miami legal secretary who has been with the same firm for over 13 years.  She is an active member of TREEmendous Miami, Inc. and the Tropical Flowering Tree Society; served on the Charter Review Board and Co-Chairs the Code Enforcement Board for the City of West Miami, FL; and Co-chairs the Red Riders Crime Watch Group.  Patty is an avid butterfly gardener and recently became a Master Gardener under the UFL/Miami-Dade County Cooperative Extension Service Program.  Although she considers herself still a novice in the world of plants, she loves to play in the dirt - - but promises not to bring "mud pies" to our refreshment tables.

Robert Harris, Jr. (Vice President) was born in Hialeah and raised in Kendall. He gained an interest in native plants from his father, Robert, Sr., who was a member of FNPS several years ago and planted many native plants at the Harris household.  Robert has been a member since 1998.  He has a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering and a Master of Engineering in Environmental Engineering from the University of Florida. He currently works at an assistant engineer at Hazen and Sawyer, P.C., a prominent engineering consulting firm.

Jan Kolb (Director at Large) grew up on a farm near Adrian, Michigan.  She spent many hours in a forest next door with Little Golden Books identifying plants and animals.  After graduating from Michigan State, Jan has been an RN, has taught health classes and now works for Baptist Hospital doing pre-employment physicals, but she is happiest when she is outdoors with native plants.  Jan has been a member for 5 years and a board member for 1 year.  After moving here with her family in 1990, she became interested in native plants to attract butterflies to her bare yard following Hurricane Andrew.  She still considers herself a beginner but loves to learn and to help others learn about native plants.  Jan points out that the goals of the Florida Native Plant Society can be remembered as CPR: Conservation, Preservation, and Restoration – so FNPS relates directly to her nursing career!

Suzanne Koptur (Director at Large) was raised in Detroit, Michigan, and did not discover her love of nature until she was a pre-med student at the University of Michigan.  Her graduate work in Botany at UC Berkeley led her to the tropics where she studied plant/animal interactions of tropical trees in the genus Inga (Fabaceae).  She had post-docs at the University of Iowa (where there was a good group of biologists concerned with tropical trees!) and a NATO postdoc in England.  Suzanne came to FIU in 1985, and is now a Professor in Biological Sciences, teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in ecology, botany, and biology, and doing research in subtropical habitats in south Florida, especially in insect/ plant interactions,. She shares many outdoor activities with her family.  A former Betty Crocker homemaker-of-the-year (1972 Michigan runner-up), she also enjoys cooking, making preserves, and quilting.

Amy Leonard (President) was born and raised in Miami and was introduced to native plants at an early age through school in  restoration projects in the 1980's in Crandon Park. After completing an MS at Clemson University, she returned to her roots and currently teaches Biology and AP Environmental Science at Coral Park High School. She joined FNPS after attending Native Plant Day in 2001, and joined the board as a Director at Large, serving as the speaker coordinator, graduated to vice-president and is our new President.

Jennifer Possley (Treasurer) has been a biologist at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden's Center for Tropical Plant Conservation for 5 1/2 years.  Her interests include linking ecology with natural areas management, rare species monitoring, and ferns.  Prior to joining Fairchild's "conservation team," she completed a master's degree in Agronomy at UF Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants and worked as an Americorps volunteer in Big Cypress National Preserve, removing Melaleuca.  She is originally from the village of Dexter, Michigan, where she grew up learning to love nature on 15 acres of woods, swamp, ponds and streams.

Jonathan Taylor (Secretary) has been a member for 5 years and has also served as Director at Large and Treasurer.  He believes in the goals of the society and wants to help advance its ideals.  He was born in Missouri, raised in the Appalachian Mountains of Eastern Kentucky and has traveled extensively across the U.S., Europe, Africa and Caribbean.  However, now he is thankful to call Miami home.   His academic training is in the natural sciences with an emphasis on coastal and wetland plant ecology.   He is a botanist at Everglades National Park and is responsible for the Exotic Vegetation Management Program.

Lynka Woodbury (Director at Large and FNPS state board member) works in the herbarium at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden Research Center hiding out of the sun yet staying close to the Caribbean flora she loves.  Besides mounting thousands of specimens, she recruits and trains volunteers. Lynka is a native of Coconut Grove, growing up here and in Puerto Rico enjoying the outdoors with her botanist father, the late Roy Orlo Woodbury.  At UF she majored in English and Biology.  She used to travel the world in a sailboat, and while she now paints and sails for fun, her real loves are native environments and people, especially her two children, family, volunteers, and wonderful friends in FNPS.

Steven W. Woodmansee (Past-President) is a Biologist for The Institute for Regional Conservation and is dedicated to the research and preservation of South Florida's flora and fauna.  Born in Coral Gables, since a very young age he has possessed a fascination for all things natural.  He has been a member of FNPS since 1998, and has served on the chapter board since 2002.  He was chapter rep on the FNPS board during 2002-2004.

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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: Amy Leonard, 305-458-0969, aleonar74@yahoo.com

Refreshment coordinator, Dade meetings: Patty Harris, 305-262-3763 eve., 305-373-1000 day

DCFNPS Web page: http://dade.fnpschapters.org

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: 321-271-6702

Tillandsia editors: Patty Phares (305-255-6404, pphares@mindspring.com) and Karen Griffin (305-441-0458, kgriffin@cyberonic.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 most months at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and are free and open to the public. Once a year, instead of the usual meeting, members and their guests are invited to an evening garden tour and social at a member's home. Meetings in the Keys are held on 3rd Wednesdays in November through April at varying locations from Key Largo to Key West. The basic FNPS membership (state and chapter) is $25 per year. Please contact DCFNPS or click on the membership link at this site 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 $12/month.

© 1999-2007 Dade Chapter Florida Native Plant Society, Inc.

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